Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Students learn about medical flight safety from Air Methods risk manager


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — College students received a first-hand account of what it takes to manage and mitigate risks for a major medical services company when they toured Englewood, Colo.-based Air Methods Corp. on Saturday afternoon.

About 30 students from several universities were invited by the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Student Advisory Council to participate in the tour of Air Methods, which has 4,000 employees, a fleet of more than 400 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and operates in nearly 40 states and Haiti.

Air Methods risk manager Eric Marsh spoke with the student group about the various risk concerns that the company manages, including keeping patients and employees safe during medical transport processes. Insurance costs for Air Methods are “enormous,” he said, since the company's transportation work carries a number of safety risks, and that risk management is important to manage Air Methods' insurance spend.

Mr. Marsh said he hoped the presentation and tour would help students see how concepts they're learning in college are being used in a professional setting.

“The application of what you're learning in the classroom sometimes is very different when you're out here doing the job,” Mr. Marsh said. “So I want them to have a real feel for the differences between the classroom and the real world and how things are changing so quickly.”

Mr. Marsh also discussed how his company manages Colorado's recent legalization of recreational marijuana. Air Methods is a drug-free workplace and has a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana use, particularly since most employees are subject to federal drug standards under U.S. Federal Aviation Administration rules, Mr. Marsh said.


An Air Methods transport team talked with students about their rules and regulations for staying safe while evacuating patients from accident scenes. The tour group also was able to see several helicopters inside the Air Methods facility.

Andrew Haynes, a senior studying finance, risk management and insurance at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., said the tour allowed him to learn outside of a classroom setting about how companies protect themselves from risks.

“I feel like a lot of material taught in schools is more insurance-based,” said Mr. Haynes, who plans to work as a production associate with brokerage All Risks Ltd. after graduation. “I was hoping to get a little more of the risk management side of the business.”

Austin Oldham, a senior studying risk management, insurance and finance at Butler University in Indianapolis, said the Air Methods tour deepened his appreciation for the risk management field.

“It's just good to see a different side of it in the aviation industry, which I've never had that side of at all,” said Mr. Oldham, who plans to work in risk management or underwriting after graduation. “It's good to see how far-reaching risk management is in every single industry.”

RIMS Student Advisory Council Chairwoman Debbie Rodgers said this was the second year that RIMS has held a student tour prior to the annual RIMS conference and Exhibition. Council members wanted to give students a chance to learn about risk management as a potential career path, she said.

RIMS wanted to “give them insight into… how a risk manager does his or her job to assess, manage and mitigate risk,” said Ms. Rodgers, Philadelphia-based senior vice president of global risk management for food services company Aramark Corp.