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Helicopter crash claims the lives of air transport pilot and nurse

by Barbara Kram, Editor | July 27, 2010
Two crew members perished
in a recent medevac accident
A recent medical helicopter transport accident serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by flight and clinical crews of air medical transport providers.

On July 22, a medical helicopter crashed near Oklahoma City while on its way from Integris Baptist Medical Center to pick up a patient at a hospital about 90 miles away. The pilot and one nurse were killed; another flight nurse was injured.

"AAMS extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the lost EagleMed crew members, Pilot Al Harrison and Nurse Ryan Duke, whose medical helicopter crashed near Oklahoma City, Okla., on July 22," said Daniel G. Hankins, M.D., FACEP, president of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS). "We also are hopeful for the full recovery of injured flight nurse Michael Eccarders, the only survivor on the flight."

The EagleMed Memorial Service for Harrison and Duke is set for 10 a.m., Thursday, July 29, at the Crossing Community Church, 14600 N. Portland Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73134. EagleMed has established a fund for the families of the fallen crew members; for details, see http://www.flyeaglemed.com/.

In addition, MedEvac Foundation, a charitable and research organization established by AAMS, is providing immediate financial assistance to the bereaved families through its Family Grant Fund. For details or to donate, see www.medevacfoundation.org/MedEvac/Outreach/Family_Grant_Fund/Family_Grant_Fund.aspx.

Unrelated Crash of Non-Medical Plane

Even as the tragic news of Thursday evening's medical helicopter crash continued to unfold, AAMS was also receiving inquiries regarding the crash (July 23) of a small private fixed-wing airplane in Lake Michigan, in which one person survived and four others were missing, AAMS told DOTmed News via e-mail. And while this was a privately-owned airplane flying on a volunteer "mercy mission" to a medical facility (rather than a licensed air medical transport vehicle) AAMS also extended its sympathies and support.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those affected by this tragedy, as well," said Dr. Hankins, who is also an emergency room physician at the Mayo Clinic.