Chief: Software update sent Aero Med pilot to wrong scene


OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A software update might be to blame for Aero Med getting lost while trying to find a crash scene Thursday evening.

“I was trying to figure out where they were and why they weren’t arriving at one point,” Oakfield Township Fire Chief Sam Peterson explained. “They said, ‘We should be above your scene’ and we were all looking around not seeing anything.’ So we knew they had to be in the wrong place.”

Peterson said he can’t speculate on how the two patients transported to the hospital may be doing had Aero Med made it to the scene, but nothing could be done to save the person who died on scene. He explained the person who died was extricated first and worked on immediately.

Authorities have identified 20-year-old Sand Lake man Joel Kinsey as the victim who died.

Another person involved was listed in serious condition as of Saturday morning, while the third patient suffered non-life threatening injuries.

“I don’t place the blame on anybody, it just, it was just a big snafu that happened,” Chief Peterson added.

Oakfield Township firefighters were called to the scene around 5:20 p.m. Shortly after arriving on scene, they requested Aero Med and set up a landing zone half a mile away at the baseball field next to the fire station.

In the scanner traffic included in our full reports, you can hear the first responders explaining where the helicopter should land.

Peterson estimated they waited 15-20 minutes before deciding to transport by ground. He told 24 Hour News 8 he spoke to the pilot Friday morning to figure out what happened.

“He explained to me where things probably went wrong and it had to do with the software update in their computer system and the coordinates being in a different format,” Chief Peterson said. “He told me the coordinates they had, that the computer spit out to them, took them 22 miles northwest of our scene. So nowhere near us. That’s why we couldn’t see them.”

Chief Peterson added he’s already coordinated a permanent landing zone in the future with Aero Med, so any future calls will automatically respond to the baseball field.

“So now if the need ever arises, t’s already in their computer system it’ll take them right to us.”

Spectrum hospital released a statement on the incident, saying:

“The health and safety of our patients is our top concern at Spectrum Health. Aero Med has been able to assist in providing emergency transportation to thousands of patients throughout West Michigan for over 30 years. We are reviewing this incident to help ensure that we continue to provide the best service possible.”