Joint Training Promotes Safety at Angel MedFlight

Angel MedFlight Safety Officer, Wendy Whitaker

Angel MedFlight Safety Officer, Wendy Whitaker

June 20, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)

Angel MedFlight uses a unique training philosophy to promote safety. We had the opportunity to sit down with Angel MedFlight Safety Officer, Wendy Whitaker, to learn about the benefits of the training methodology used and other safety procedures in place at Angel MedFlight.

Angel MedFlight follows the FAA’s training guidelines for Air Medical Resource Management training or AMRM. *The focus of AMRM is training all of the air medical service team members together on a number of topics that focus on member’s job. For example, pilots will be familiar with what flight coordinators do and flight nurses will understand what pilots do. The AMRM philosophy was developed to enhance the safety culture within the air medical community, by promoting team cohesiveness. The FAA suggests that the AMRM training be customized for each individual organization to reflect that companies operating philosophies, polices, practices and procedures.

The success of an organization’s AMRM training program isn’t guaranteed. It’s really based on how well the training is implemented and the instructors providing the training. Luckily, at Angel MedFlight we have excellent trainers in Clinical Educator, Matt Greenwell RN, Chief Pilot, Kindle Tannery, and Safety Officer, Wendy Whitaker. This group of educators trains the Flight Coordinators, Dispatch, Logistics, Medical Crew, Flight and Maintenance Crew all together in joint curriculum classes. This training methodology is at the heart of the AMRM philosophy. Together the group will learn about each other’s roles and this creates better communication between departments and crew and promotes safety. The classes are taught using real-world problems, scenarios and tasks as well as visual aids.

Joint Training Works – Crew Curriculum includes topics like:

  • Federal Aviation Regulations
  • AMRM – Air Medical Resource Management
  • Emergency Procedures and Equipment
  • Flight Physiology
  • Patient Care
  • Passenger Care
  • Safety Management Systems / Emergency Response Plans
  • Just Culture / Threat & Error Management
  • Logistics and General Operations
  • Flight Coordination
  • Human Factors

“It’s a very big deal that we do this type of training. Each department understands a little about each other’s jobs, which unifies departments and really creates a strong team mentality,” says Safety Officer, Wendy Whitaker.

This type of training promotes safety, as a result of departments and crew communicating effectively with one another. Safety is the number one priority at Angel MedFlight, and is apparent with our ARG/US Platinum Rating.  The Platinum rating is the highest safety rating awarded and to be Platinum rated you must have what’s called a Safety Management System (SMS) in place. Part of Angel MedFlight’s SMS audits all of the departments for safety, using various guidelines. Another part of the system allows employees to report safety concerns anonymously. Both systems are important to maintain safe operations.

Before every flight, pilots do a risk assessment of the flight.  Pilots take a “snapshot” of the flight; enter data such as terrain, weather, and time in the aircraft into the risk assessment application developed by our in house software programmers. The application will in turn assign the flight a risk value of low, medium or high-risk flight.  If the app determines the flight to be high risk, it will not allow the pilot to proceed any further with planning the flight until the fight is approved by the Director of Operations, or the Chief Pilot.  If the flight is deemed to be too high risk, the flight will not be done at all.  “Our Director of Operations and Chief Pilot do a great job in evaluating the conditions surrounding risk values, like weather, fatigue, duty times, etcetera, and offering alternative solutions to reduce our risk values to an acceptable level,” states Whitaker.

At Angel MedFlight, it’s everyone’s joint responsibility to operate safely together for the benefit of the patients we fly. That’s why safety is paramount at Angel MedFlight.

*Source: FAA AMRM Advisory Circular – Date: 9/22/2005

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