I have been reading with interest Alberos posts and comments about the use/mis-use of MSP medivac helicopters. Questions have been asked about whether or not the use of these vehicles is covered by the drivers insurance or not. The answer to that question is simply no. A portion of of automoble registration is used to cover the cost of the choppers much the same way a portion oof your phone bill goes to help offset the cost 911 operation and equipment to provode emergency services to the citizens.
I wonder how many people even realize how the helicopters in the State of Md. came to be. Like so many other amenities enjoyed by the populace the sight of an MSP helicoper overhead has become so common it is taken for granted. That is except for the few that are desirous to continually find fault with those entrusted to allocate the taxes we pay. Obviously those individuls who continually beef about such things have:
1) never had a need for such a luxury as a life saving vehicle or:
2) have never been in the position to help another that needs a lifesaving vehicle.
The history of helicopters and the Maryland EMS system can be credited to one man, Dr. R Adams Cowley. (1917-1991) Dr Cowley while serving in the army during WWII observed that soldiers reaching military hospital with surgeons available with in an hour of sustaining injuries were more apt to survival than those delayed in recieving treatment. Thus was born the theory of the "Golden Hour". Simply put, treatment delayed more than an hour would result in metabolic changes within the body that were irreversable resulting in death hours or even days after the trauma and often times after the person was deemed stable. Dr. Cowley envisioned a system where rapid transport and agressive stabliation efforts in field would save lifes at a rate far better than the system of simple first aid and rapid transport.
Dr. Cowley's dream recieved a boost when a friend of then govennor Marvin Mandel was injuried in an auto accident and was treated and was treated by the good Dr. In 1973, the Governor issued an executive order establishing the Center for the Study of Trauma as the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medicine. The order simultaneously created the Division of Emergency Medical Services. Dr. Cowley was appointed as director. This made Maryland the first State in the union with a statewide EMS system.
After initially being denied the purchase of helicopers, Dr. Cowley returned to the legislature with a plan to share the crafts with the Md. State Police. The state agreed and thus the birth of Marylands Medivac System.
My career with the Salsibury Fire Department began in 1973 and in as much I have seen and experienced the growth of Marylands EMS System. From the surplus UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) to the Bell Ranger, to the Aerospatiale Dauphines currently being used, the growth of Marylands Emergency Medical System has been phenomenal to watch and often a trailblazer for the rest of the country.
Medi-vacs constitute 75% of the use for MSP choppers. Thats a lot of airtime and a lot money saving lives. Waste of money? Overkill" Is it worth it? Ask those who are alive today because of aviation division of MSP. Ask those who work to extricate a victim how glad they are to see a mode of transportation available that will make their efforts more than worth while.