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American Eurocopter Appoints 2009 Vision Zero Aviation Safety Award Blue Ribbon Committee

30th July 2009 - 17:50 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


American Eurocopter announced today that it has appointed the 2009 Vision Zero Aviation Safety Award Blue Ribbon Committee.

The members of this committee will be responsible for evaluating the applications and determining the winner of the prestigious Vision Zero Aviation Safety award, which was established by American Eurocopter with the purpose of promoting a higher level of safety within the air medical industry.

As part of the award, American Eurocopter will contribute up to $10,000 to the winner of the award to further develop aviation safety initiatives within their organization. This is the third year for the award.

The 2008 award was given to Dr. Ira Blumen and team from the University of Chicago Medical Center for their tireless work on the Opportunities for Safety Improvement in Helicopter EMS (OSI-HEMS) research project.

Dr. Ira Blumen explained “the team is very grateful to have been selected as the recipient of the 2nd Annual American Eurocopter Vision Zero Aviation Safety Award.  The $10,000 award has allowed our group of aviation and medical experts to thoroughly review and discuss over 135 HEMS accidents from 1998 to 2009 with the additional funding.  Through this root cause analysis, specific problems have been identified and concrete recommendations will be made to compare the potential benefits, cost, effectiveness and feasibility of various interventions that can prevent HEMS accidents or reduce the impact of accidents that do occur.”

All programs and operators who are members of the Association of Air Medical Service (AAMS) are eligible to apply, and may nominate themselves.  Nomination forms are now available.

Each of the following members of the Blue Ribbon Committee has extensive background within the air medical industry:

Bill Bryant MPA/HSA (Chairman)

Mr. Bryant is the president and principle of Sierra Health Group, a national healthcare consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas and Golden, CO.  Mr. Bryant has over 25 years experience in the air medical industry, and has worked on consulting projects in over 30 States.  He is a prior AAMS Board member and Officer.

Denise Landis, RN, EMT-P, MSA, CMTE

Ms. Landis has been in the air ambulance industry over 25 years and is the Program Director for the University of Michigan Survival Flight and is also a past President of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).  She is the current Chairperson of the Medical Transport Leadership Institute (MTLI) and current President of Michigan AAMS.

Eileen Frazer, RN, CMTE, CLNC

Ms. Frazer has been the Executive Director of CAMTS since its inception in 1990.  Frazer has published many articles and chapters related to safety and medical transport operations and has a regular feature in the Air Med Journal entitled "Ask CAMTS".

Ed MacDonald

Mr. MacDonald has over 39 years experience flying patients since 1970 as a combat medical evacuation pilot and 17 years of experience as an active EMS Pilot, and has held positions as a Chief Pilot, Safety Manager, and Lead Pilot.  He is a retired US Army Major, and is past President of NEMSPA, the Co-Chair of the AAMS/CORE Safety Committee, and current Chairman of AMSAC.

Clark Kurschner

Mr. Kurschner is the Director of Operations for Omniflight Helicopters, Inc.  His duties during his thirty plus year career at Omniflight include EMS line pilot, a flight instructor, a check airman and Chief Pilot. He is a member of the AAMS Safety Committee, The HAI Flight Operations Committee, the HAI Air Medical Committee, and past Chairman of AMSAC.

Gerry Pagano

Mr. Pagano is the Director of Operations for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County's Trauma Hawk Aeromedical Program in West Palm Beach, Florida.  He has over 30 years experience in aviation operations including combat flight assignment, air traffic control, emergency medical services and consults on air carrier certification. Mr. Pagano has been certified as an Aviation Safety Program Manager at the Transportation Safety Institute, currently serves on the AAMS Board, and is the Chairman of the AAMS Safety Committee.

Jason Schwebach MBA, MHA, CMTE

Mr. Schwebach is the Administrative Director for MedCenter Air, the transport service for Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, NC.  He is a former military medical service corps officer and helicopter pilot with both the US Army & US Air Force, and has been in the air-medical industry for 18 years.  He is a CAMTS site surveyor, and immediate past president of the North Carolina Air-Medical Affiliation.

Joe Syslo

Mr. Syslo is the Senior Manager, Aviation Safety, for American Eurocopter. He is a retired US Army Aviator and Commercial Pilot who has flown helicopters for the last 42 years in a variety of applications, including HEMS. He has been a Chief Pilot for a Part 135 company, an ARNG CW4 ASO, and is also retired from Bell Helicopter, where he was a Senior Aircraft Accident Investigator and Aviation Safety Specialist. Mr. Syslo is actively involved in the International Helicopter Safety Team, whose goal is to reduce helicopter accidents 80% by 2016.

For more information on The American Eurocopter Vision Zero Aviation Safety Award, please visit

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