There have been zero (0) civilian or general public deaths (people on the ground) resulting from a medical helicopter or hospital heliport in the past 30 years in the country. In that time, incredible improvements have been made in helicopter technology and safety. The modern helicopters that service Telluride have advanced safety equipment including night vision, terrain avoidance, traffic avoidance, satellite tracking along with excellent performance capabilities and a high reliability record.
There are 43 heliports in Colorado above 8,200 feet. Altitude and weather play a role in flight safety, and pilots approved to fly into Telluride Regional Medical Center are highly trained and qualified. The proposed location of the heliport meets or exceeds the recognized safety standards of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation and air medical industries in general. This includes compliance with the Federal, State and local building codes and standards. Any potential effects upon neighboring residential, office and educational areas are mitigated by the distance of the heliport landing pad.
Sound abatement procedures will minimize the less than 45 seconds of take-off and landing, and there are no lights associated with the heliport that would cast any “beams” into the neighborhood. According to the FAA, there are currently 75 air ambulance companies that operate approximately 1,515 helicopters in the United States.
Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations. While accidents did decline in the years following that effort, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with five accidents that claimed 21 lives.*
The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance accidents from 1991 through 2010 and determined 62 accidents that claimed 125 non-civilian lives could have been mitigated by today's rule. While developing the rule, the FAA considered 20 commercial helicopter accidents from 1991 through 2010 (excluding air ambulances) that resulted in 39 fatalities.*
According to the FAA, from 2011 through 2013, there were seven air ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities and seven commercial helicopter accidents that claimed 20 lives.*
* Statistic includes accidents of on-scene rescues. Telluride Regional Medical Center is not involved in helicopter scene rescues; the heliport envisioned for the new regional medical center will not effect the number of on-scene rescues called for by regional Emergency Medical Services.