Your daily Letter to the Columnist — Aug. 12, 2013
I wrote you last week regarding the overlap of helicopter transport services between the private carriers and the state police. Thank you for keeping me anonymous.
Here’s another example of the abuse in our air transport market:
There were multiple people who witnessed emergency scene providers at a car accident in Forest, Va., call a helicopter to transport a victim to Lynchburg General Hospital. The accident, a couple of years ago, was on U.S. 221 and was less than 3 miles from the Lynchburg city limits!
Think about that for a moment: upon arriving at the accident scene, the EMS providers evaluated the victim then decided to have a helicopter transport the patient no more than three or four miles by air! To expand on that further, if they’d simply loaded the patient in the ambulance, they’d have been at the hospital in no more than 10 to 12 minutes, max.
Yet instead, they requested the helicopter, waited for it to arrive on the scene (which involved landing in the highway after blocking both lanes), then loaded the patient to be airlifted just a few miles. There is no way anyone can claim with veracity this was either quicker or more practical than transporting that victim by land ambulance.
Using the helicopter actually delayed the time it took to get the victim to an emergency room and of course was much more expensive.
It is another example of the excess and abuse of the air transport system. One cannot help but wonder if there is some sort of incentive to use a helicopter instead of simply taking the patient by ambulance. At the very least, there seems to be too much superfluous use of a highly valuable resource.
Most importantly, these actions fly in the face of the “golden hour” theory of patient transport and regardless of who gets billed for what, the excesses are yet another reason for our ever-escalating health care insurance costs.
Please do not publish my name. Thank you.