After Crash Some Nurses and Medics Refuse To Fly

Anita Lucas-Legg, H.A.A.'s chief flight nurse.
Anita Lucas-Legg, H.A.A.'s chief flight nurse.

(KHNL) - Some local nurses and paramedics say they have safety concerns about returning to flying with Hawaii Air Ambulance.

A spokeswoman for the a team of flight nurses at Kapiolani Hospital confirmed they have concerns about flying on the cessnas. But these nurses have continued to fly with the Coast Guard.

Two City and County Paramedics have decided they no longer want to fly with Hawaii Air Ambulance.

Hawaii Air Ambulance has its own staff of flight nurses and medics.

Many of these medical professionals knew all three victims from Wednesday's crash.

Hawaii Air Ambulance grounded its fleet of Cessnas following the deadly crash. The company says it is inspecting all of the Cessnas, so its crews can feel confident the planes are safe. For H.A.A., it's two crashes in two years resulting in six fatalities.

"The staff is in a complete state of mourning," Anita Lucas-Legg, H.A.A.'s chief flight nurse, said.

When the plane went down, Hawaii Air Ambulance lost three members of its family -- Brien Eisaman, Peter Miller and Marlena Yomes.

"(Yomes) had tremendous experience, and quite a teacher, and truly, truly functioned with a passion," Lucas-Legg said. "Brien came to us with quite a length of experience, and just tremendous loss. And Peter, just an excellent pilot, flew with him many times, and truly an inspiration for the company."

Just a few hours before Wednesday's fiery crash, the same team flew to the same island for another patient pick-up.

"No indication at all of any problems in the first flight, and nothing, as I say, until 7:11 (p.m.) that we heard of anything," Andrew Kluger, H.A.A.'s chief executive officer, said.

The Cessna had replaced another Hawaii Air Ambulance plane that went down. That crash, 22 miles northwest of Hilo two years ago, killed three people who were also on their way to pick up a patient. The company says the N.T.S.B. found no findings of fault in its investigation.

"That means it was not mechanical. It was not pilot error. And It was nothing that they could determine, other than, I guess, an act of God," Kluger said.

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services chief Patty Dukes lost colleagues in both crashes.

"My reaction was somebody took a sledgehammer, and hit me in the chest," she said.

Dukes says medics understand the dangers associated with the job.

"We kind of put it aside because the patient needs us," she said.

Hawaii Air Ambulance says it inspects its planes daily. The company says it is still transporting patients with the help of the Coast Guard.