Month: November 2018

MedFlight Mourns the Passing of One of our Own.

MedFlight Mourns the Passing of One of Our Own
Contact Todd Bailey (Public Information Officer) at 614-580-9081 or with questions.

Columbus, Ohio – MedFlight regrets to inform you that Paramedic Mark Potter was found deceased this morning at MedFlight’s Meigs County helicopter base in Pomeroy, Ohio.

There is no known cause of death at this time.

We ask that you respect the privacy of Mark’s family, friends, and coworkers.

According to MedFlight’s President Tom Allenstein, “We are devastated regarding the news of Mark’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with his family. Mark is a cherished part of our family as well.”

Mark was a Flight Paramedic and External Base Lead for MedFlight’s Meigs County Base. He has worked for MedFlight as a paramedic for almost 2 years.  He proudly and honorably represented his home community in Logan, Ohio.

Please refer to or MedFlight’s social media sites for more information.  We will try to respectfully update the community regarding the situation when we know more.

Furthermore, our heartfelt thanks go to the first responders, especially Meigs County EMS, who are involved and continue to support and assist us.



Potter, Mark Full


Winter Helipad Safety Tips

Here are 10 quick tips on how to keep your helipad in SAFE shape this winter:

1.  Use only UREA or a chemical product that claims no corrosive properties or hazards to the environment, such as the ice-melting agents Sodium Acetate or Potassium Acetate.

2.  DO NOT USE ROCK SALT.  Rock salt is corrosive to the aircraft.

3.  Do not use sand as an anti-skid agent.  It will not stay in place, and creates a projectile hazard during rotor wash.

4.  Helipad warning/safety signs should be cleared of snow and remain visible.

5.  Do not bury perimeter lighting in snow piles.

6.  Do not pile snow in front of gates or routes of ingress/egress from the helipad.

7.  Snow piles immediately adjacent to the helipad greater than 2 ft high could cause damage to the helicopter tail rotor.

8.  Position snow piles so that melting snow and ice will drain from the helipad and not refreeze, creating a fall/slip hazard.

9.  Helicopters develop rotor was that typically exceeds 75-100 mph.  Dangers include serious wind chill and projectiles created by any loose snow or ice.

10.  Whiteout conditions can occur during takeoff and landings.  These can affect pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic.

**Consider helipad painting schemes that help melt ice and snow.  A red background is recommended.  See FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150-5390-2BPara 409b. (2) and fig 4-10b**


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Box 5: Serving First Responders

York Township Fire Department and MedFlight Partner to Serve Regional First Responders
by Scott McManus, York Township Fire Department
Nelsonville, Ohio (Athens County) – York Township Fire Department has a new resource to assist regional first responders who provide assistance to the Athens County community during times of crisis.  
Thanks to the continued partnership of MedFlight, Box 5 and Athens County’s York Township Fire Department, MedFlight donated a decommissioned Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU ambulance vehicle) to the community to further serve first responders as a relief vehicle.  Box 5 took the vehicle and retrofitted it for response and gave it a new “wrap” that identifies it for a new use.
Box 5 is a non-profit organization that provides on-scene rehabilitation such as drinks for the outside temperatures, chairs, shelter, heat, cool misting fans, snack, gloves, and anything else you can think of right down to dry socks to Athens County Firefighters during long running emergency situations.  Pre-hospital providers and law enforcement officers (including search and rescue teams) within a 30-mile radius will be served, including Perry County, Hocking County, Vinton County, Meigs County, and some of Washington County.
According to Scott McManus, “While MedFlight provided the vehicle, Box 5’s Director Mark Hall has tirelessly worked to raise financial assistance to outfit and brand the vehicle. This new truck will be much more reliable and will provide much more room than what we currently have in service. We are grateful for each donation that we have received. Each of them as important as the next – from small monetary donations and in house fundraising, to our biggest donation in the form of this new truck.”
MedFlight President and CEO Tom Allenstein said, “we are honored to be able to further serve the community and recycle one of our older MICU’s that has saved many lives throughout the years.  This vehicle will now be further used to provide an on-site source of care and relief for those that respond in times of need.”
The new vehicle will be displayed on November 16 at the York Township Fire Department located at 15255 Elmrock Road, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764.
York Township Fire Department serves the greater Nelsonville, Ohio region which includes Doanville, The Village of Buchtel, and the rest of York Township encompassing a 36 Square Mile area.
MedFlight is a non-profit medical transportation company governed by its consortium hospitals including Wexner Medical Center at the Ohio State University and OhioHealth. MedFlight also has a partnership with the Kettering Health Network and Nationwide Children’s Hospital and has preferred provider agreements with many of Ohio’s most prominent hospitals.

Shorelines: More than Just Extension Cords

By Mark A. Farley, CFRN
Flight Nurse
HealthNet Aeromedical Services Base 9


When unplugging your ambulance or aircraft, have you ever noticed the shoreline connection felt a little warm? If so, do you realize this can potentially be a serious problem?

Even if the connection does not feel warm, an inspection of the cord and its connections
still needs to be done. This cord is essential to the Mission.Ready. philosophy we live by each day.

Ambulance manufacturers began using products for shoreline connections in the early 1970s. This equipment was equivalent to standard RV hardware that would accommodate the load of a tricklecharging for system batteries, a suction device and a hand-held radio.  This work load would pull less than 500 watts and a 15-amp residential cord could handle the demand easily. Shorelines are connected to many things today that are considered “parasitic loads.”

Some examples at minimum are a 10-amp charger for the chassis batteries, chargers for cot batteries, cardiac monitor, ventilator, suction, thermal angel/buddy lite, refrigerator and possibly a block heater.  All of this adds up!  The next time you remove the shoreline
cord and it feels warm, it is a safe bet it is delivering current more than its recommended capacity.
Always examine shoreline cords at both ends and the shoreline receptacles on both ambulances and aircraft. A safe cord should be firmly attached to its plugs on both ends. If you find cutting of the outer and inner jackets exposing bare copper, remove the cords from service immediately and notify the base lead.  Crews must be familiar with the breaker panel in their ambulance and should know where it is located and how to reset the panel. It should contain at least a 110-volt circuit breaker, which looks like a
toggle switch. There should be a number, either 15 or 20, on the visible part of the breaker which indicates the maximum amount of a 110-volt current the breaker will handle before it trips. The constant load rating for shoreline should amount to less than half of the breaker’s trip limit.
Cords should also be permanently labeled every three to four feet with the kind of wire it contains. For example, a cord that handles a max of 15 amps should be labeled 14-3 AWG. This indicates three 14-gauge wires. A cord that handles a max of 20 amps should say 12-3 AWG.  This means three 12-gauge wires.  A 12-gauge cord protected by a 20-amp breaker in the station or hangar and a 20-amp breaker in your ambulance or aircraft would be optimal.
It is recommended that ambulance and aircraft shoreline cords be replaced once each year. Each time the cord is plugged and unplugged the ends arc slightly. This arc causes some wear on the metal and creates some minor damage.  The amount of times the cords arc when plugged in wears the contacts, thus making the contacts less and less reliable when the cord is utilized over time. Cords do get wet and are run over from time to time by vehicles more than five tons.  Make it a habit to pull cords out of the drive path of
vehicles.  Habits are reliable, even when we are tired.


National EMS Health & Safety Officer Update

By Jeff White, M.S., MTSP-C, FP-C
Director of Safety
HealthNet Aeromedical Services

The National EMS Health and Safety Officer committee has been diligently
working for the past year in conjunction with the National EMS Management
Association (NEMSMA) to create a model for EMS agencies to use in selecting
a dedicated safety representative. NEMSMA already has certified and tested
positions for an EMS Director, EMS Manager, EMS Supervisor and has almost
completed the EMS QA/QI position. Now they are moving onto safety. Our
committee currently has the position description and position personal attributes
completed. We are currently in the process of creating the test model and
discussing what materials one might study or learn to achieve this position
We have based our test model on the Board of Certified Safety Professional’s
(BCSP) Associate Safety Professional (ASP) model. We have begun the process
of incorporating EMS specific modalities into this general safety model to make it
relevant for an EMS individual. Many agencies will most likely choose someone
with EMS experience, but others across the country have already begun to
incorporate general industry safety professionals into their system for a broader
look at safety processes. We hope the final model will increase the professionalism
of the position along with the industry.


MedComm: Columbus’ Air Medical “Air Traffic Control”

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Learn more about MedComm at

MedComm:  Columbus’ Air Medical “Air Traffic Control”

Amanda Osborne, MedFlight Outreach Coordinator


Columbus, Ohio, is home to several trauma centers, burn centers, hyperbaric chambers, and hospitals offering the best in specialized care.  Because of this, air medical traffic in central Ohio is often congested.  With 9 helicopter teams positioned throughout Ohio, MedFlight is often in the air across the state and potentially crossing paths with other air medical programs in the area.

Since its inception, MedFlight’s communication center, MedComm, has been proudly located in Columbus.  These local and highly-trained experts are available 24/7 for your safety needs and have impressive experience in aviation, 911 dispatching, EMS, military service, nursing, and air medicine.

For decades, MedComm has provided flight-following and flight monitoring services for not only our teams, but for other air medical programs visiting central Ohio hospitals as well.  With safety as our top priority, MedComm acts as “air traffic control” for all inbound and outbound aircraft in the greater Columbus region.  This initiative began as part of a partnership with the Central Ohio Trauma System to help prevent “traffic jams” over hospital helipads, flight paths crossing, and potential near-misses in an already congested urban airspace.

If you work at an agency that transports into the Columbus area, we ask that you contact MedFlight MedComm so we can not only alert other flight teams and hospital security teams of your intended flight path, but we can keep an eye on YOUR safety as well.   This needed communication process is broken down into a few simple steps:

  1.  Have your dispatch center call MedComm with your flight path and an ETA. MedComm can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-222-5433.
  2. Once you are 15 minutes away from your Columbus destination, contact MedComm on the radio. Most visiting flight programs contact MedComm on 155.400 PL 141.3, but you are welcome to contact us on MedFlight’s MARCS channel, labeled as MEDFLT.  They will relay any air medical traffic you need to look out for in the area during your mission.
  3. Columbus is also home to several touring, media, and law enforcement helicopters, 3 major airports, and visiting air traffic (banner planes, blimps, etc) during special events. Please announce your intended flight path and altitude to air traffic on Unicom 123.025 when you are entering Columbus airspace.

Along with overseeing air medical traffic, MedComm is more than happy to assist your teams with their operational needs, like arranging for extra personnel to be waiting on your arrival for patient unloading, contacting your dispatch center if you are out of range, etc.

With your help, we can maintain a safe flying culture in the Greater Columbus area and around Ohio.  #PartnersForLife


Safer Operations: The MedFlight Risk Assessment Experience

Schano, Greg
Written by Greg Schano, RN, MSN, MBA, CCRN, CMTE, CNML, EMTP.  Flight Nurse, MedFlight.

Healthcare is an industry associated with high risk1 and while critical care transport (CCT) contributes to this, certain risks attendant to ground critical care transportation are not described well2, 3 and may be appreciated less completely than their rotor-wing counterparts.  Yet understanding and inculcating safety in CCT is important and urgent.4

During the period 1992-2011, there were 4,500 crashes involving an ambulance5 in the US (average 225 per year) and while 58% of these crashes occurred during emergency operations, 1% involved at least one fatality.5  It is not clear if these data includes ground critical care transport vehicles.  Blumen notes between 1972-2016, emergency medical service helicopters experienced 342 accidents (nearly 8 per year) with 36% involving at least one fatality.6  Many CCT agencies, including MedFlight, have adopted a variety of safety strategies including a philosophy of “three-to-go; one-to-say-no,” fatigue assessments, departure and arrival checklists, written time-out guidelines, and risk assessment (RA) matrices.7

Most often human error emerges from systems with flawed designs.8  Safe patient care, therefore, depends on systems designed around practices that aim to prevent, recognize, and mitigate harm.  Building safety into operations is an effective approach to reducing error8 and is achieved, in part, by indoctrinating a just culture,9 incorporating human factors awareness into organizational procedures and individual practices,8 and striving for high reliability.  Organizations of high reliability share five characteristics including sensitivity to operations, reluctance to simplify, preoccupation with failure, deference to expertise, and resilience.9, 10  Checklists and risk assessments are tools caregivers can use to help prevent, recognize, and mitigate harm.

In its enduring quest for safer operations, MedFlight began conducting risk assessments at the employee (partner) level in 2008 and includes a requirement for partners to conduct a shift risk assessment and ground transport risk assessment (sensitivity to operations, preoccupation with failure).  For rotor-wing helicopter operations, a pilot risk assessment is performed following Metro Aviation, Inc. standards.  Metro Aviation is contracted by MedFlight to provide aviation services including operational control (sensitivity to operations, preoccupation with failure, deference to expertise).  During the summer of 2017, MedFlight began a process of evaluating and updating its risk assessment matrices for medical crew (sensitivity to operations, reluctance to simplify, preoccupation with failure) with a task force of safety committee representatives including nurses, paramedics, and a safety officer.  The task force chose to evaluate MedFlight’s Shift Risk Assessment tool first (Figure 1).  Brainstorming followed with sessions on purpose, criteria, language, and weighted values.  Risk assessment tools from other CCT programs were reviewed (deference to expertise, reluctance to simplify) and a new tool was developed.  MedFlight’s safety committee, risk manager and leadership team approved the deliverable (deference to expertise, sensitivity to operations, reluctance to simplify).

Each MedFlight clinical partner for all modes of transport initiates an electronic risk assessment at the beginning of each 12-hour shift and following each transport throughout the shift (preoccupation with failure, sensitivity to operations, reluctance to simplify, resilience).  A new version of this risk assessment tool went into effect November, 2017.  The new Personal Risk Assessment tool (Figure 2), replaces the Shift Risk Assessment tool.  The task force believes this personal assessment with face validity represents a partner’s own analysis of their own risk based on their own unique features (deference to expertise, sensitivity to operations, reluctance to simplify).  Following are changes:

  • Criteria captures qualities which contribute to fatigue
  • Language written in first-person makes the tool more personal
  • New weighted values
  • Weighted values calculate in the background by the computer information system
  • Asks the partner to rate their activity level during the preceding 10 hours instead of the day before (MedFlight requires a partner to be off at least 10 hours between any and all employment)
  • Asks the partner if they feel rested rather than assessing rest in units of time
  • Modifies risk associated with number of days in a row the partner has worked to align more closely with the schedule a 12-hour shift worker may experience
  • Colorizes gradation of risk. Output of this assessment to the MedFlight partner is a color (green, yellow, red), which corresponds to increasingly more risk.  When a partner’s risk is red the partner takes crew rest (crew rest is consistent with long-standing MedFlight policy)

The Personal Risk Assessment tool is integrated into a computerized crew briefing form wherein the partner responds to each of the tool’s four questions.  Responses can be amended until the data is saved.  Once saved, the partner receives their risk color, their responses are fixed, and no further modifications are possible.  While the output to the partner is a color (green, yellow, red), MedFlight’s computer information system captures data in the background so the organization can trend in the aggregate.  By comparing risk colors with feelings of tiredness or fatigue, a partner can develop a sense of personal wisdom over time about how to best prepare for a work shift and manage their physical needs during a shift.

Next, MedFlight will revise its ground transport risk assessment matrix (Figure 3) for use by its mobile intensive care unit (MICU) and FlyCar teams and we look forward to sharing this process and tool.  MedFlight FlyCars are sport utility vehicles located strategically throughout the state of Ohio and are activated as needed to ensure availability of quality critical care transportation and a timely response.  Please look for future installments here…because…Safety Matters.


Figure 1.

Shift Risk Assessment used by MedFlight partners prior to 11.2017


Figure 2.

Personal Risk Assessment tool used by MedFlight partners beginning 11.2017


Figure 3:


Risk assessment matrix for ground transports currently in use by MedFlight partners.


  1. Saysana M, McCaskey M, Cox E, Thompson R, Tuttle L, Haut P. A Step Toward High Reliability: Implementation of a Daily Safety Brief in a Children’s Hospital. Journal Of Patient Safety. September 2017;13(3), 149-152.
  2. Singh J, MacDonald R, Ahghari M. Critical events during land-based interfacility transport. Annals Of Emergency Medicine. July 2014;64(1), 9-15.
  3. Spradlin W, Kalmar T, McLaughlin D, Bigham M, Volsko T. Use of Ground Risk Assessment to Identify and Mitigate Risks Associated With Ground Critical Care Transport. Air Medical Journal. September 2016;35(5), 287.
  4. Jaynes C, Werman H, White L. A Blueprint for Critical Care Transport Research. Air Medical Journal. January 2013;32(1), 30-35.
  5. The national highway traffic safety administration and ground ambulance crashes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. April, 2014. GroundAmbulanceCrashesPresentation.pdf. Accessed November 17, 2017.
  6. Huber M. HEMS industry getting safer. AINonline. 2016. aviation-news/business-aviation/2016-12-22/hems-industry-getting-safer. Accessed November 18, 2017.
  7. Greene M. 2012 Critical Care Transport Workplace and Salary Survey. Air Medical Journal. November 2012;31(6), 276-280.
  8. Kohn L, Corrigan J, Donaldson M, eds. To err is human: Building a safer health system.  Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine; 1999
  9. Advice for Hospital Leaders. AHRQ Publication No. 08-0022. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2008.
  10. Innovation in pursuit of high-reliability culture. Patient Safety Monitor Journal. May 2017;18(5),1-4.