Medical Helicopter Down As Safety Conference Kicks Off

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Officials Thursday released the names of four victims killed when a medical transport helicopter crashed in a field in Illinois Wednesday night and as the Association of Air Medical Services prepared for its annual conference held this year on Oct. 20-22. The aircraft came to rest near a newly damaged AM radio tower. As the accident (which may bring the total to at least 12 crashes and 32 killed in the past 12 months) is investigated and safety concerns for the industry deepen, industry leaders will be meeting in Minneapolis to "put a specific focus on safety in air medicine." Safety-related products like night vision goggles, TAWS (terrain awareness and warning systems) and weather services will be highlighted and on display on the show floor, as will risk assessment and safety training programs. A special pre-conference workshop will be under way Sunday afternoon when the Commission on Accreditation of Air Medical Transport Services will also offer a course designed to create a culture of quality and safety. Then, research presentations will be given "on several safety topics all day on Monday." The FAA released its own safety recommendations (not regulations) on June 30.