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Air Ambulance Targeted by Laser

Today we came upon a story that a major impact on the air ambulance industry and it points to a troubling sign of the times. News out of Ireland this weekend was an air ambulance was attacked by someone pointing a laser at it. These kinds of laser strikes are becoming more common world-wide and we want to take time to highlight the dangers lasers can be for air ambulance pilots as well as commercial flights.

In this weekend’s case in Ireland the air ambulance was transporting a sick infant who was being moved to a different hospital for urgent treatment. Every life is precious to those of us in the air ambulance industry, however when an air ambulance comes under attack and an infant in on board it is even more sickening.

According to the pilots of this particular air ambulance they were scheduled to land about 10 minutes prior to the attack when suddenly they were blinded by the laser. The pilots of the helicopter said the laser was unavoidable and was like “looking into a bright green sun.

Most people don’t realize the harm they are causing when the point a laser in the sky. Whether intentional or a prank pointing a laser into the sky can easily cause a crash. Like these air ambulance pilots noted, when a pilot is blinded is has a severe impact on their ability to concentrate. In most situations the pilots of the air ambulance have no choice but to continue on with the flight.

Some pilots, depending on time of day and other factors will need to use night vision goggles. If someone strikes an air ambulance when a pilot has goggles on it can increase the dangers because the goggles are designed to intensify available light sources.

The FAA reports that the number of laser strikes against air craft has climbed sharply in the last decade with over 3,960 incidents last year alone. Attacking an air craft of any kind is a serious federal offense and more and more cases are being prosecuted with stiff penalties for the attacker. In March a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a laser at a helicopter.

Fortunately this weekend’s attack on an air ambulance had a happy ending, with the infant safely reaching the hospital to receive care the young patient sorely needs. However one small factor could have changed the outcome of the flight thanks to one careless criminal. It’s our hope that governments world-wide continue to crack down on these attacks and people understand the damage their carelessness can cause.

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