What is Safety in Critical Care Transportation?June 28, 2021 By Rick Kenin, Boston MedFlight COO- Transport
We hear the term so often that we’ve become immune to it: 'We have an impeccable safety record'… 'our helicopters are the safest on the market'… 'our safety program is an industry leader'… But what really is “safety”?
First, what isn’t safety? Safety is not a flawless safety manual that sits on a shelf. Safety is not a set of training requirements to “check the box.” And safety is not a company’s managers standing up to say “we have a great safety program!” Safety is a commitment, an investment and understanding that we will do what is necessary to assure each of us comes home from work each day, and along the way, we do some good for others.
Here are some things that contribute to making Boston MedFlight a uniquely safe operation: a commitment from the very top of the organization that BMF will evaluate risk, mitigate what we can and stop operations if we can’t do it safely. A commitment to understanding that we all make human errors and we welcome help from others to report and correct mistakes, without retribution. A financial investment in equipment and time to assure that we purchase and train on the best machines available to do our jobs. And finally, understanding that the environment we work in requires us to be situationally aware and report problems along the way, knowing that others will take the reports seriously to improve our processes.
So how does this manifest itself in our day-to-day operations? Here are just a couple examples: Fatigue mitigation: unlike most operators, Boston MedFlight not only limits duty-hours for our pilots and clinical crews, but we commit to not work our maintenance technicians beyond 14-hours because we know the likelihood of a maintenance error goes up as the day gets longer. The best equipment: Although not required yet, we paid extra and assured that our new Freightliner ambulances met the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services’ (CAAS) latest vehicle standards, before they were even published. Further, we are updating our fleet to ground ambulances that allow the entire crew to ride in the cab, a much safer location in the event of a road accident.
In future newsletters I will expand on each of these safety elements, compare our program to others in the industry and explain how Boston MedFlight incorporates them into our culture and daily operations.