So was 2008 merely a statistical blip, or was it the start of a trend? Again, the numbers paint a more complete picture. In the late 1980s, when there were far fewer EMS helicopters in operation, the total number of fatalities linked to the helicopter EMS industry was actually higher than in the years just prior to 2008, as well as the years after. For example, from 1985 to 1989, there were 52 fatalities caused by EMS helicopter crashes compared with 41 from 2004 through 2007. Total annual flight hours for the helicopter EMS industry, meanwhile, tripled between these time periods.