ShandsCair helicopter flight team improves night vision

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2010)—The ShandsCair helicopter flight team is enhancing its night vision. The team completes Federal Aviation Administration training next week and will become Florida’s fifth emergency medical services helicopter program certified to use night vision goggles.

ShandsCair is the critical care transport system for Shands at the University of Florida and provided 1,883 ground and air emergency transports last year.

“Our new night vision goggles offer 20/25 vision, compared to 20/200 without the goggles, and amplify light up to 10,000 times,” said Mark Womack, ShandsCair lead pilot. “Night vision goggles improve our ability to go into dimly lit landing zones, such as fields and pastures, and allow better viewing of obstructions.”

This week, all ShandsCair helicopter pilots and medical crew members will complete in-flight training with night vision goggles manufactured by ITT Night Vision & Imaging. The team will begin using them for all flights between dusk and dawn. They have already completed the ground training required by the FAA in order to use the goggles.

While the Federal Aviation Administration does not require medical helicopter teams to be equipped with night vision goggles, the National Transportation Safety Board recommends their use.

“We are excited to be proactive in obtaining this technology and training our teams. Our goal is to improve the care we provide our patients,” said Michele Ziglar, R.N., M.S.N., Shands director of trauma and aeromedical services. “Using this equipment we will improve our flight abilities at night.”

In addition to the in-flight and ground training, the FAA requires at least two crew members wear the goggles. All three ShandsCair crew members will use the goggles at night. Additionally, all instruments in the aircraft had to be converted with compatible lighting.

“The night vision goggles enhance our safety culture at ShandsCair,” Womack said. “This is just another step toward improving the way we serve the region.”

ShandsCair’s pilots and aviation services are provided by Air Methods Corporation, the largest provider of air medical emergency transport services and systems throughout the United States.

ShandsCair provides medical transport in several vehicles, including one helicopter, four medical vehicles/ambulances and one fixed-wing aircraft.

For more information:

ShandsCair – http://shands.org/hospitals/CancerHospital/service/Shandscair/default.asp

ShandsCair clinical services – http://www.shands.org/jobs/nursing/uf/unitscopes/emergencyservices/shandscair.asp

FAA – http://www.faa.gov
http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=11957