At the base of the RAeS's concern is the fact that available UK helicopter assets are owned and controlled by different agencies, and the scene of any given inland accident or disaster has a primary agency responsible for it - usually the police. But the police do not have expertise in co-ordinating large-scale airborne activity in the area of a disaster, which could increase risk and reduce efficiency in the use of resources.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the US-based Helicopter Association International has been assembling a database of US privately owned helicopter resources, more or less because the government has not been attempting any such exercise although private resources played a big part in the Katrina rescue.

HAI director flight operations and technical services Harold Summer told the RAeS that there were over 100 emergency medical services aircraft using New Orleans airport as an operational hub, but all the helicopters operating there were being used in the emergency medical services role. Summer says there is no US federal plan to make use of private helicopter emergency medical services assets even though they constitute 90% of the country's capable fleet.

Source: Flight International