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Air Medical crew in the front seat?

“Is having a medical crew member in the co-pilot seat a positive or negative safety issue?’ That’s a question a flight nurse put to the helicopter air medical community a while back. How would you answer that question? If I had to offer an answer, my first thought would be that we can learn a lot from the way the Australians operate their air medical helicopters. In 2013, I was invited to speak at the equivalent of their air medical transport conference held in Melbourne that year. My wife and I arrived two-weeks prior to the conference and we were given tours of several of their HEMS bases in Sydney. We were surprised to learn that to fly HEMS in Australia you have to be able to legally fly IFR. In many programs they don’t employ a second pilot but they have what they call a ‘Crewie’ (short for crewman) to fill that role.