READY TO ROLL

READY TO ROLL

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MEDSTAR DOWN

A Medstar helicopter that serves Arlington County and the rest of the metropolitan area crashed May 30, 2006, as it approached the Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia.

The medevac patient - already in grave condition - died hours later in surgery. The crash injured Medstar's three crew members.

According to The Washington Post, the Eurocopter - on a flight from Greater Southeast Community Hospital - plummeted onto a golf course on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home on North Capitol Street, Northwest, at about 5 p.m.

The pilot had transmitted a distress call.

"I could see [the helicopter] laboring," witness Jay Speights, who was getting out of his car at the golf course parking lot, told the Post.

According to a 2005 report on the Washington Hospital Center's web site, the helicopter service - which is operated by the hospital center - carried more than 36,000 patients ``with a perfect safety record since its inception in 1983.''

The Medstar service evacuated casualties from the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The fleet consists of three EC-135 choppers, which have a cruising speed of 150 mph and a range of approximately 250 miles, according to the Medstar Transport web site. The standard flight crew consists of a pilot, critical care nurse and a critical care paramedic.