Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Man who nearly died in medical helicopter crash in dispute with employer: Agusta A109S Grand, N91NM, North Memorial Health Care; accident occurred September 17, 2016 near Chandler Field Airport (KAXN), Alexandria, Douglas County, Minnesota

Miles Weske, a flight paramedic, was the most seriously injured in a Sept. 17 helicopter crash in Alexandria. He suffered fractures of his C2 and C3 vertebrae, a liver laceration, multiple broken ribs, a broken sternum, broken femur, broken ankle, collapsed lungs and blood in his lungs. 

Miles Weske

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Miles Weske, the North Memorial flight paramedic who almost lost his life in a helicopter crash in Alexandria last year, and his wife, Brooklyn, say they will pursue legal action against North Memorial after changes to his employment status.

The legal action is being pursued after Miles was recently terminated from North Memorial Air Care while still recovering from severe injuries sustained in the company helicopter crash.

"We are going to take legal action," Brooklyn said. "Even if all that comes out of it is this not happening to someone else, we are perfectly happy with that."

Though terminated from Air Care, Brooklyn states that Miles is still employed by North Memorial in the billing department.

According to North Memorial, Miles Weske is still a team member. The Brooklyn Center-based organization, which operates hospitals and clinics as well as ambulance services, had no other comment.

On Sept. 16, 2016, Miles was in the back seat of a North Memorial Air Care helicopter when it crashed north of the Alexandria Municipal Airport at about 2 a.m. He suffered fractures to two vertebrae, a liver laceration, multiple broken ribs, a broken sternum, broken femur, broken ankle, collapsed lungs and blood in his lungs.

After spending two months in the hospital, Miles returned to his home in Nisswa. Though he knew he could not return to work as a flight paramedic, he wanted to remain involved with Air Care.

According to a blog post by Brooklyn, Miles was told in January he had been given a full-time position in which he could work from home and have a flexible schedule so he could attend appointments regarding his injuries from the crash. On Jan. 31, Miles went to Brooklyn Center for a meeting about his ideas regarding quality assurance and quality improvement for North Memorial Air Care. He was sent home with a computer and instructions for accessing documentation.

In February, according to the blog post, Miles began to wonder why he was not being given work related to quality assurance and quality improvement. He called his supervisor and was told he was not needed for that area. He was told his position was to ensure there was information in the boxes on charts that the billing department would need.

The next month, Miles received a letter from the head of human resources at North Memorial Medical Center stating that he had been officially terminated from his position as a flight paramedic with the Air Care division of North Memorial, something Miles' supervisor told him was just part of the process.

Through a series of phone calls in April, Brooklyn's blog states that Miles was told there could be no special treatment for his circumstances. His supervisors allegedly said he would need to arrange paid time off three weeks ahead of time and work normal hours, something that is made difficult by the number of appointments Miles has each day. Miles was told he would not receive special treatment and that if the schedule did not work for him, it was suggested he look into other careers.

According to the The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), it is "unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. This booklet explains the part of the ADA that prohibits job discrimination. This part of the law is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State and local civil rights enforcement agencies that work with the Commission."

Two other crew members on the helicopter were treated for less serious injuries and were discharged shortly after the crash.

"We are reminded each day that our lives have changed forever," Brooklyn said. "We have lost the most important thing in our life, which is time at home with our family. Each day is filled with appointments, travel, phone calls, paperwork and constant reminders of the permanent deficits this incident has caused ... And to have lost the support of the superiors of an organization that boasts their dedication to 'taking care of family' is disturbing."

Original article can be found here:

Miles Weske

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:

North Memorial Health Care:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Minneapolis FSDO-15

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA372
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Alexandria, MN
Aircraft: AGUSTA A109, registration: N91NM
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 17, 2016, at 0207 central daylight time, an Agusta S.p.A A109S helicopter, N91NM, impacted trees and terrain near Chandler Field Airport (AXN), Alexandria, Minnesota. The commercial rated pilot and two crew members sustained serious injuries and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to North Memorial Health Care, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and operated by North Memorial Medical Center under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a positioning flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The helicopter departed Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (BRD), Brainerd, Minnesota about 0135 and was destined for the Douglas County Hospital helipad, Alexandria, Minnesota. 

The pilot stated that he received a call for a flight request about 0100, accepted the flight, and then filed an IFR flight plan to AXN. He was in radio contact with air traffic control (ATC), but radar contact was lost about half way through the flight. About 20 miles from AXN he noticed clouds quickly forming underneath the helicopter. The pilot was cleared for and attempted the RNAV GPS 22 approach to AXN as clouds were still forming beneath the helicopter. The pilot initiated a missed approach by utilizing the "go around" function of the helicopters autopilot. During the missed approach, the helicopter made an uncommanded left bank followed by a right bank. The pilot attempted to counteract the bank by applying opposite cyclic control. 

The helicopter impacted several tall trees and then the ground and continued into a wooded area. Several nearby residents were awake at the time of the accident and heard the helicopters engines and then the sound of the impact. Two other witnesses were outside of their homes east of the airport and observed the helicopter flying overhead prior to the accident. 

At 0201, the AXN weather observation recorded wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots, 9 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 400 ft, broken clouds at 3,600 ft, temperature 57 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury. 

At 0209, the AXN weather observation recorded wind from 290 degrees at 12 knots, 4 miles visibility, mist, broken clouds at 300 ft, temperature 57 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury. 

The helicopter has been retained for further examination.

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