FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., July 2 (UPI) -- The crash of two medical helicopters in Arizona has stirred debate over the role of choppers in emergency medicine, the Arizona Republic said Wednesday.
Dr. Brian Bledsoe, an expert on paramedic care from the University of Nevada, said his research indicates that the majority of patients transported by helicopter suffer from relatively minor injuries and ailments and could be served just as well by an ambulance.
He told the Republic that helicopters are "an important service, but vastly overused."
Thomas Judge, a flight paramedic and former president of the Association of Air Medical Services, agreed that choppers weren't right for every case; however he defended their value in remote areas and as a means of getting past traffic jams. He added that first-responders often have to make hectic decisions in the field, and that it is better to err on the side of caution.
Meanwhile, Mark Rosenker, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday that the crash in Flagstaff that left six people dead likely would not have been prevented had reforms to air-ambulance operations that were proposed in 2006 been in effect.