EagleMed helicopter crash in Talihina prompts new scrutiny

The latest crash of an EagleMed LLC helicopter occurred Tuesday night near the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina in southeastern Oklahoma.
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 13, 2013
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A commission that evaluates medical transport services is placing its accreditation of a Kansas-based company under new scrutiny following the third deadly crash of one of its medical helicopters in Oklahoma since 2010, the commission's executive director said Wednesday.

The latest crash of an EagleMed LLC helicopter occurred Tuesday night near the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina in southeastern Oklahoma.

Janet Sharp, spokeswoman for the health care center, said a patient who was being transported to a medical facility in Tulsa died, but it was uncertain whether the death was due to the crash or a previous medical condition.

Sharp said the helicopter's flight nurse was transported to a Tulsa hospital following the crash and was listed in stable condition. The pilot and a medic suffered minor injuries and have been released, she said. She did not identify any of the helicopter's occupants.

Eileen Frazer, executive director of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems, said EagleMed's accreditation by the agency will be reviewed following the crash, meaning that further action could be taken against the company pending the results of an investigation.

“We will look for trends, especially in this unusual circumstance,” Frazer said.

Tuesday's crash occurred less than four months after an EagleMed helicopter crash-landed outside an Oklahoma City nursing home early Feb. 22, killing two people onboard and critically injuring a third. Another EagleMed helicopter crashed into a field near Kingfisher on July 22, 2010, killing the pilot and nurse and seriously injuring a paramedic. No patients were on board.

Frazer said the company, based in Wichita, Kan., had just received its three-year accreditation when the February crash occurred. The accreditation process included an analysis of maintenance records of all its aircraft and crew, including pilots.

The latest crash will require members of the independent, nonprofit group to make a supplemental visit to the company to gather more information.

“We will have to go out there again,” Frazer said.

Waiting for review

Frazer said no decision will be made on the future of EagleMed's accreditation and operations until the organization has a chance to review the final reports of investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies.

“We don't jump to conclusions. We would have to look at NTSB reports before we see any trending,” she said.

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