The number of Maryland medevac transports has dropped significantly since new protocols were put in place after a fatal crash, causing lawmakers to question yesterday how many helicopters are needed to replace the state's aging fleet. Donald DeVries, chairman of the State Emergency Medical Services Board, and Dr. Robert Bass, who is the director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, briefed lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Health Care Delivery and Financing about an expert panel's findings. There have been only 396 requests for medevac flights in the seven weeks since the crash killed four of the five people aboard. Of those requests, about 57 percent resulted in helicopter flights, Bass said. That projects to about 1,679 transports a year, "significantly down from what our historical numbers are," he said. There were about 4,100 flights last year. Several lawmakers asked whether the downward trend would continue and how it would affect the state's need for new helicopters, at a time when Maryland is facing a serious budget crunch.