Hearing about the recent problems with Boeing’s training program raised a lot of concern not just in the aerospace industry, but with how we are regulating industries in general. Team aerospace and medical regulations together and you have a challenge few would try and tackle. But Bell Technology (formerly Bell Helicopter) is no stranger to challenges. Recently, Bell, Shaanxi Helicopters, and Shaanxi Provincial People’s Hospital successfully completed an Air Medical Services (AMS) exercise in China.
This exercise is an initial step toward developing air medical capability for the Implementation Program for a Joint Pilot of Aviation Medical Rescue launched earlier this year by the National Health Commission of China and the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC).
This is a new take on training, with technology and simulation working together on a network. The exercise covered:
- Aviation safety practices and culture
- Functions and responsibilities for medical transport
- Flight planning and decision making
- Crew resource management and flight physiology
In addition, an introduction to the cross-functional coordination among emergency response, medical care, dispatch, and aviation was provided to create a safe and effective air medical network solution for China.
Research from The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) and ASCEND has shown that air medical services can significantly reduce the mortality rate of patients and improve the outcome of treatment. At present, there are more than 1,200 civilian air medical helicopters serving 320 million people in the United States; China currently has less than 100 civilian air medical helicopters serving 1.4 billion people. China’s central government plans to build a modern healthcare system which will include an extensive air medical services network.
What might be more interesting is when you consider Bell Technologies’ work in autonomous flying vehicles. Bell is targeting crowded cities and using three dimensions to curb traffic. Being able to fly people autonomously in and out of crowded areas alleviates crowded infrastructure. With more vehicles in the air around crowded areas, it might be possible to expand this vision. With trained professionals and hospitals with helicopter pads already, autonomous vehicles could be used like ambulances that might be able to get on the scene faster and save lives. Transports could be designed with medical in mind and be cleaned and converted into an ambulance to pick up medical professionals and patients faster. A public or quasi-public transport with medical cleaning capabilities will also mean autonomous vehicles can stay cleaner than any other transportation option available.
While the training in China isn’t for self-flying vehicles, as the sky becomes used more, it will be necessary to have autonomous connected technology. A fender bender could be catastrophic and rain shrapnel on people below. Having more vehicles in the air will require a connected network of self-flying ambulances. Autonomous ambulances connected to other vehicles will give the options for priority traffic for a robust medical aviation arsenal.