SPECIAL UNIT PROFILE
University of Michigan's 3 EC155s set new standards in helicopter medical care.
U-M's EC155s are equipped with LED lighting systems that are selectable to a variety of colors and intensities to fit every night situation, including NVG operations. Control is via touchscreen icons.
The machined internal tracks and various near-flush fittings in the floor provide sufficient rough surface that the crew will always have safe footing, no matter the distribution of body fluids or other loose liquids.
The exterior photo on this page shows the extensive lighting suites in the cabin that accommodate any condition of day or night, as well as the NVG environment. Each crew station has a touch-sensitive LED panel that allows selection of appropriate lights, as well as power to and control of the entire range of medical devices aboard the EC155.
Individual audio panels at each station allow crewmembers to adjust their own hot mike settings and radio volumes, and to isolate themselves as needed from intercom and radio traffic.
On the advantages of the EC155's fenestron, Dowdall says, "Ground safety is a never-ending challenge for us, especially at scene calls. All aeromedical operators live in fear of ground personnel walking into a tail rotor. The fenestron does away with that threat once and for all."
The EC155's aft cabin wall has a large gear shelf, drug and medical equipment cabinets, and a swiveling bracket to hold a monitor. The computerized controls for lights and medical gear are in the small gray ceiling cabinet.
Eurocopter offered Survival Flight an extensive initial training program, according to Dowdall. He says, "Our initial training was done at HeliSim, a simulator facility right next to the Eurocopter headquarters facility in Marignane, near Marseille.
HeliSim is a partner company to Eurocopter and offered us a Level D full motion EC155 simulator in which we completed an IFR initial training course. Our FAA inspectors attended as well and gave us our 135 checkrides in the simulator."
Pentastar's 135 training plan now calls for in-aircraft checkrides every year, with attendance at HeliSim in alternate years. NVG training and checking is done in the aircraft using FAA national resource check pilots and Pentastar's approved training program.
Survival Flight's 2 EC155-trained technicians—Kim Toms and Steve Agosta—who have been with the program for over 20 years, perform routine and unscheduled maintenance. The maintenance hangar at nearby ARB (Ann Arbor MI) is equipped for major airframe inspections, engine changes and any other maintenance required on the EC155.
Eurocopter and Turbomeca tech reps are available 24/7, according to Dowdall, and have been on the spot within hours for the few teething problems on the EC155s.
According to Denise Landis, the future of Survival Flight is the EC155. Its greatly enhanced performance and advanced avionics and patient care environment are the perfect platform for U-M critical care nurses to provide the best care to those in need.
"We're excited that our teams will be able to offer our world-class care to more of our citizens than ever before, thanks to this wonderful new helicopter," Landis says.
Naturally, we can look for new stories of medical miracles to join the hundreds already on the walls of Survival Flight's quarters.
Woody McClendon has written for Pro Pilot for 20 years. He flies jets and helicopters and is currently a sales manager for FlightSafety Intl.