We hope you are enjoying fall flying and all the beauty that goes with this time of the year! For me, this is the best time of the year to enjoy the view from our perch from the sky. While each part of our great country has a beauty all its own, we are particularly blessed with gorgeous colors.
Some time ago I wrote about the importance of those who choose to fly emergency medical service missions. It has been and continues to be my privilege to perform FAA medical examinations on a number of professional pilots who fly EMS out of Brainerd and Bemidji. It is a remarkable group of aviators who dedicate their careers to serving those who find themselves in medically perilous situations.
Consider the fact that they are often on long flight duty shifts and must be ready to launch at a moment’s notice. This consideration brings to memory my days of training in obstetrics, where we were on 24-hour shifts and we had to be able to respond immediately to mothers in travail. We had to be able to be interrupted from whatever we were doing to analyze an emergent situation, to determine an immediate plan of action and to execute that plan without delay. Seconds could make a difference in the life or death of the mother and/or baby. One can extrapolate those same responsibilities to our EMS pilots and crew who must answer the call without delay, assess the weight/balance, fuel needs, weather conditions at launch and landing, make a go/no go decision and execute the plan of action. They must be on their game, be decisive and be right. I can tell you that they do not do this just for the money. They do this because they care about the mission.
Recently a dear family member suffered a medical emergency that required a helicopter EMS flight from a local hospital to a tertiary care center. Julie and I launched urgently to meet them at the hospital in another state and, by chance, had the opportunity to hear the pilot of the EMS helicopter speak with approach control and the tower as he navigated to the hospital. It was a night flight.
We were so reassured when we heard the calm and professional voice of the pilot speaking with the controllers. Seriously, it gave us a feeling of hope and calm knowing that this pilot had our loved one safely aboard.
One of the things that has come from me caring for EMS pilots is the feeling that I get when I hear an EMS helicopter flying overhead in all kinds of weather. Someone is in trouble, someone’s loved one needs a calm, professional aviator at the control to safely get them to the care that they need. I picture the pilots and EMS crews I have come to call friends sitting at those controls and I hope you will join me in giving thanks to them for being there.