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Proof, CRM does work to prevent an accident!

Posted 4 years 315 days ago ago by Randy Mains

On January 29th of this year, (2019) a Survival Flight Inc. helicopter was on a flight to pick up a patient from a hospital in Pomeroy, Ohio, when it crashed in snowy conditions killing all three occupants.   The crew members were pilot Jennifer Topper, 34; nurse Bradley Haynes, 48; and nurse Rachel Cunningham, 33, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Any loss of life is tragic, and this is heartbreaking,” Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers said. This was “first responders flying in adverse conditions to help somebody else.” 

At the time of the crash, light snow showers were falling in Vinton County. Temperatures were in the mid-20s with winds blowing steadily from the west at 15 mph and gusting up to 21 mph, said Maura Casey, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Charleston, W. Va., which covers southeast Ohio. Wind chills were hovering around zero or the single digits. Sellers said it was too soon to determine if weather was a factor in the crash.

It has been said no bell rings when a life or lives are saved due to the practice of crew resource management, the study of the human factors that can cause air crew to make faulty (dangerous) decisions.  Shortly after the fatal crash in Iowa, I received a Facebook message from an individual who works at a neighboring flight program.  Here is what they said:

Randy, I wanted to take a moment and tell you thank you. Thank You for your AMRM class that you presented to our flight program. We recently declined a flight due to unsafe weather conditions then later saw our competitor accept that flight and the result was the Survival Flight crash. I saw some of your comments on Face Book after that crash and your feelings towards it. I will always remember taking your class with your crazy antenna and thinking who is this guy? He’s got my attention now! I remember you talking about pressures and being actively smart. Is it legal does not mean it is safe. So Thank you, I hope you realize just how important your seminars are to all pilots young and old.

Keep on spreading your safety message.  CRM does work.

All the Best.

Here is my answer to their message to me..

Thank you so much for your message.  Your words made my heart swell.  As you know no bell rings when one makes a difference especially regarding CRM / AMRM.  I have printed your message out and will refer to it whenever I wonder if I am making a difference.  Randy

During that same timeframe when I received that message, I received a message from Grace Wagner, a CFII and Whirly Girl who had been awarded a scholarship to attend my May 2018 5-day CRM Instructor’s course, which she did.  Here is what Grace wrote:

Hi Randy,
I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that I have been thinking a lot about you and your CRM Instructor course in light of this week's accident.  The concepts you teach are truly critical to the safety of our industry. Thank you so much for everything you do. Sending love, thoughts, and support to everyone who is hurting in our industry right now.

Grace Wagner

So I would like anyone reading this to please take note, that when you take a CRM class, please pay attention like those in the airlines do.  In the airlines CRM is a religion because they know it works to prevent an accident.  Once you’ve taken the course from your employer and learn the concepts, keep your antenna up ready to identify a possible link in an error chain forming then break that link before it leads to an accident or incident.  The CRM concept is relatively easy.  But you have to take action or an inaction to make it work. 

Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected].