In a jam
Stuck button grounds LifeSafe flight
A sticky button in a helicopter’s emergency panel grounded a LifeSafe flight at St. Luke Hospital for several hours Sunday as the pilot struggled to reset it.
A second aircraft was dispatched from Salina, and Marion ambulance was placed on standby to drive a patient to Wichita as efforts to free the jammed switch held up a patient’s transport.
LifeSafe’s pilots test an aircraft’s caution lighting before takeoff, LifeSafe’s general operations manager B.J. Tyner said. LifeSafe was formerly known as LifeTeam.
The pilot, who had landed at St. Luke Hospital around 2 p.m. reported: “I’ve got every single warning light on and I need maintenance, please.”
The pilot was directed to shut down the helicopter and keep pressing the button until he freed it, Tyner said.
“Any number of things can cause that, including dust or debris,” he said, adding that repeatedly “cycling” a switch will usually release it.
By 4:15 p.m., lights were restored, and the helicopter lifted off.
The patient stayed on board during the “precaution pause,” which was never an emergency, Tyner said.
No other maintenance was needed on the aircraft.