Aviation can be perceived as dangerous and Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) operations are perhaps seen as a ‘high risk’ operation due to what we do and when we do it.
An operation can occur at any time of day or night and will involve someone who needs our help in a time-critical situation. Therefore, Speed Vs Time is our first consideration.
A range of variables
Unlike conventional airlines we do not have set routes to fly and specific airports from which we can take off and land at. We don’t know where we are going until we are dispatched; we don’t where we are going to land until we get there and make an assessment of the incident area, and we won’t know our final destination until a medical assessment has been made of the patient.
Factor in the weather, potential limiting defects with the aircraft, airspace restrictions, availability of hospitals and other variables that add significantly to the ‘base risk’ of aviation itself.
Safety Management Systems (SMS)
Although we are categorised as a small operator, due to our operations and like big airlines, we have to have a mandated Safety Management System (SMS).
This system encompasses all our operational activities beyond the aviation side and it allows us to identify the inherent risks within any aspect of our operation.
Once a risk has been identified we put in place mitigations to reduce the overall risk down to an acceptable level.
The SMS also includes a safety reporting system that allows staff to report any safety issues that occur, anonymously if required. These reports are processed, and further mitigation or additional measures are put in place to avoid a re-occurrence of the event or, if that is not possible, to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
An important part of our SMS and something that we are proud to support is our Just Culture Policy.