EagleMed flies 15 King Airs and 15 AStars for far-ranging EMS ops
With 29 bases in 10 states, use of turboprops and helos allows diverse capability in safe patient transfer.
King Airs extend EagleMed's reach for critical care transports to nearly anywhere in the US.
"What I look for as the chief pilot is how well they are going to fit in the organization. Air ambulance is not for everybody.
For one thing, they have to be able to get along with the rest of the crew. We have to mix well and maintain that professional relationship." Schaub says.
"A fixed-wing pilot is going to need the same things as a rotorwing pilot when it comes to duties as a chief pilot. Training is regulated the same way. Check rides are required every 12 months for the VFR program and with the fixed-wing program, there is an annual check ride as well," he says. "Only difference with the fixed-wing is that it's an IFR program with required 297s and the 299s."
There are 4 pilots assigned to each base with pilots for day and night duty. They work 12 hrs on, 12 hrs off, limited by Part 135 flying duty time. They work for a week and then get a week off.
Because the majority of EagleMed's bases are close together, if a pilot from one base is unavailable, Schaub meets mission requirements by tapping a neighboring base. He says, "We have time out policies in place for fatigue. So, if a pilot needs to get a few hrs rest, all they have to do is just call me.
Since helicopters are a VFR-only program, if a helo pilot can't take a flight, we can make a fixed-wing available. The fixed-wing backs up the helo, plus the King Air gives us long-haul capability."
Safety Dir Lance Hofmann leads the company's FAA Safety Management System processes.
Initial training for fixed-wing is 8-10 hrs, plus recurrent of 3-5 hrs. Helo initial is 5-8 hrs and a couple more for recurrent. Every 3rd month EagleMed engages every rotorwing pilot for several hrs with an instructor or a check airman.
EagleMed uses FlightSafety in Wichita for King Air initial and recurrent training and is currently in talks with FlightSafety about future Eurocopter pilot training.
Most EagleMed pilots live in the communities they serve, but for those who commute, off-base housing is provided such as an apartment or hotel room.
Schaub is a former Marine MP who caught the flying bug from his dad, who had a Cessna 150 and took the future chief pilot on flights as a 5-yr-old. He has washed and fueled aircraft, flown night cargo and been a charter pilot, CFI and CFII.
Schaub bought his dad's 150, started a flight school and eventually compiled 4000 hrs of flight time. In addition to the King Air, he has flown other turboprops, is typed in the Premier I and Citation 500 and has piloted model 35 and 55 Learjets.
Spearheading EagleMed Pres Bugg's unwavering focus on safety is Dir of Safety Lance Hofmann, who retired from the Army atop the enlisted ranks as a command sergeant major with a focus on designing and executing safety systems.
Safety Dir Hofmann says that EagleMed recently entered the 2nd level of the voluntary FAA Safety Management System (SMS). By adopting SMS as a higher standard for safety in air medical transport services, EagleMed is a rare company.
SMS is becoming the international aviation industry standard and the next step in the evolution of aviation safety. "At the forefront of implementing this benchmark program, EagleMed is part of an elite minority in the country validated by the FAA to achieve SMS Level 2 Status," said Hofmann.
"Safety is our core value and the fundamental underpinning for everything we do; therefore, we are committed to every practice and principle of SMS and are determined to achieve SMS Level 4 Status," says Hofmann. Within the FAA Central Region, there are only 2 FAA Part 135 charter certificate holders implementing the rigorous, five-phase SMS safety discipline and EagleMed is one of them.
Dir of HR Anne Warren states that EagleMed helo pilots need 1500 PIC hours, TP pilots require 2000 PIC hrs.
In addition to embracing voluntary FAA examination, the company has also welcomed other independent audits of safety processes, including ARGUS and a large global energy exploration company.
"With our CAMTS accreditation, the FAA SMS program, ARGUS and other independent audit of our safety systems and processes, all voluntary, EagleMed is one of the most highly scrutinized air medical transport companies in the world," says Pres Bugg.
EagleMed employees received the 2010 President's Award for safety from the Association of Air Medical Services, earned the 2011 Safety Award from the Helicopter Association International, been recognized by CAMTS for a Best Practice in Just Culture and won the 2012 Pilot of the Year Award from the National EMS Pilots Association.
Hofmann served in safety for over 20 yrs starting in the US Special Ops Command before arriving at EagleMed. He has 2 master's degrees in safety and is an OSHA outreach instructor and adjunct faculty for Georgia Tech. Additionally he has extensive experience in accident investigation and composite risk management.
One of the company's safety programs calls for night vision goggles (NVGs) for 100% of the Eurocopter flightcrews, both pilots and medical staff. Each helicopter has 2 sets of advanced binocular Anvis 9 NVGs and one set of monocular. All pilots and all crewmembers receive 8 hrs of ground school in NVG technology.
And then the pilots receive a 5 hrs course of instruction, actual hands-on flying with a certified instructor and checkride. Normally, they get between 5 to 7 hrs of hands-on time with the devices, typical of the company's aviation safety focus.