Night Vision Goggles
By Lois M. Collins Deseret Morning News
For crews on AirMed's Bell 407 helicopter, new night-vision goggles will make medical transport easier in rugged rural areas. And fliers will also be able to spot power lines, trees and other hazards in the dark much better.
AirMed, University Hospital's three-helicopter air patient transport system, is the first in Utah to use the night-vision technology, according to program director Ken Matthews, a registered nurse. "We've had a version we've been using for the crew in back for a couple of years," Matthews said. Now the crew and pilot will both use Anvis 9s, a binocular-type goggle that provides higher visual acuity and magnifies ambient light up to 60,000 times. The pilot can use them from takeoff through flight all the way to the ground and the landing. "It's a huge benefit in dark canyons and places that are dark as an ink blot," said Matthews. "Places with no ambient light. We think it will add a whole new level of safety to night flights."
AirMed does about 40 percent of its rescues at night, he said. Getting ready for the night-vision goggles included putting
a filter on the control panel, which otherwise could create a bright glare for a pilot wearing the goggles. In the next six months to a year, the other helicopters will also get the night-vision goggles, which are a high-quality goggle that can retail for around $12,000 to $15,000. Much of the cost was born by benefactors in the private sector, he said.
"A lot of our pilots come out of the military with quite a bit of training in night-vision use," Matthews said. A news release from the U. notes that, over the past few years, AirMed has adopted several safety initiatives, including pilot training in a flight simulator in Texas and continuation of instrument flight rules ratings for pilot certification.