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Medical helicopter fleet grounded, nurse fatally injured at work

Every day, the personnel who work for emergency medical helicopter services around the country put their lives on the line to save others. From time to time, they are the ones in need of medical treatment. Recently, a nurse, who is a former Colorado resident, was fatally injured at work during the rescue of an injured hiker in another state.

Details regarding the accident that took her life are sketchy at this point, but what is known is that she fell from the helicopter's hoist from an unknown height. The hoist is attached to the helicopter and is used to lower a carrier down to the patient. Ordinarily, a member of the crew will go with the carrier and uses a harness system to prevent him or her from falling.

Whether the nurse was using a harness -- and whether it failed -- will be a primary concern for investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting the official inquiry into this tragedy. STAR Flight, which serves the Austin, Texas, area, voluntarily grounded its fleet while it conducted its own investigation into how the accident occurred. According to a spokesperson for the company, if any deficiencies are found in its equipment or procedures, the appropriate changes will be made.

Since she was fatally injured at work, the woman's family may apply for workers' compensation benefits to help them with the inevitable expenses, and other financial losses, associated with the death of their loved one, just as a family would here in Colorado. In the short-term, at least a portion of the cost of her funeral and burial could be covered by such benefits. In the long-term, her family may be able to receive a compensation package for the loss of her income.

Source: ABC News, "Nurse Dies in Fall From Hoist on Texas Medical Helicopter", April 28, 2015

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