Some days I wonder if I want to be in aviation anymore.
Not two hours after my turbulent air encounter "debriefing" (which left a lot to be desired...
"Everyone's okay now right? Good...let's move on.") the boss man calls to pressure a pilot to take a trip that he can't take due to weather.
We do "long range" trips on occasion. This one was supposed to leave Redding, fly to Ontario, OR (1/2 flight northwest of Boise), pick up a critical* patient and fly him to Pittsburgh, PA. Yep. All the way across the country.
The weather at Ontario (ONO) is just at minimums but doesn't allow for a departure. The weather at the fuel stop, Sioux Falls, SD (FSD) is good but Pittsburgh (AGC) is forecasting freezing rain. The Long Range coordinator, who took the flight without asking if it could be done, got pretty upset when the pilot said he was delayed for weather. To the point she called the boss man who proceeded to tell the pilot, "This flight has to go. What's the problem?"
After 2 attempts to explain it to the boss man and after multiple offers for alternate solutions to the problem (reposition that night to Boise so they could get an early start, bring the patient to Boise to get an early start, have the patient at ONO when they arrive) all fell on deaf ears. To the point where Ms. Long Range Coordinator (Ms. LRC from now on) said she wouldn't even ask.
Finally...after the pilot explained basic FAR 135 regulations to the man who is supposed to know them inside and out, the boss man agrees that they can wait.
Next morning, fog traps the plane in Sacramento. Now the flight is delayed again but only by a couple of hours. #2 boss man calls and wants to know why we aren't taking 2 pilots? "Because, I can't do it as the flight won't be back in time for me to go to training, one pilot is out sick and the other just came off duty. No more pilots to go with!" Then we get the "he came in at 9, right?" (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!) "It's not the duty time (14 hours in a 24 hour period) it's the flight time (no more than 8 hours in a 14 hour duty day) that's the issue boss man #2."
The point of all this is the promise made at hiring that management wouldn't second guess out-station pilots decision making process. And yet, boss man did just that 3 times. #2 boss man did it once. 3 pilots standing around shaking their collective heads asking "WTF Over!?" If we pilots, who have an average of 20 years flying, are so pathetic in flight planning and checking the weather (things we've done since Day 1 in our flying careers), then maybe we should be fired. If you can't trust us to do our jobs as professionals, then maybe we need to be replaced.
I am still new to EMS but I'm not new to flying, flight planning, weather, etc. Bottom line, if a pilot at my base says the flight can't go due to weather, the flight can't go. I'll not second guess. If I don't know what the weather is, I'll check it myself or ask the pilot. 10 times out of 10 when this has happened, the weather was the deciding factor. End of story.
When the almighty dollar drives a company and the pilot gets pressure from the boss man to take a flight, you start to wonder? "Did the brochure look better than the resort???"
*Critical. This patient wasn't critical. He was a spouse of a company employee. Ms. LRC knows better than to tell the pilot about how "critical" a patient is in an attempt to get him to do a flight. The nurse who took the call said the patient wasn't "critical". He only had a saline drip...nothing else. Critical my arse!