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Recognizing Our Everyday Heroes

by Air Methods | May 21, 2020

As EMS Week comes to an end, and we head into Memorial Day Weekend, it is the perfect time to say thank you to the selfless heroes who put their lives on the line to rescue and care for the sick and injured every single day. At Air Methods, and all the other air medical services around the country, that means the pilots, the nurses and the respiratory therapists who take to the sky to treat and transport those who are in need. Of course, we salute our partners on the ground as well – the ambulance drivers and EMTs with whom we work daily.

During the past few months, as COVID-19 has dominated every aspect of our lives, few have demonstrated more sacrifice or been more vital than members of the EMS community. The theme of 2020 EMS Week is “Ready Today. Preparing for Tomorrow.” While that theme was designated well before the pandemic, it is incredibly fitting for where we find ourselves today. Below are a few examples of the tireless work of our air medical teams in recognition of their efforts.

New York

Aidan O’Connor, Jr., Air Methods Northeast Sales Director, was informed one night in early April that Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York City, had experienced an interruption in its oxygen system, threatening the lives of many COVID-19 patients who were suffering from respiratory failure. Working with Jennifer Noce, an Air Methods clinician who was stationed at the facility, they coordinated efforts to move patients to facilities that were equipped to treat them in the upstate region of Albany.

All told, 23 aircraft were dispatched to JFK that night to meet ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients from Jamaica Hospital. In total over that week, 49 patients were transported to Albany Medical Center and other Albany area hospitals in upstate New York, which were not experiencing the crisis-level surge that healthcare facilities all over NYC were dealing with.

It was an amazing coordination of care.

Nebraska

During the past several weeks, we have seen that rural areas and small Midwest cities are experiencing the same crises that urban centers experienced when the COVID-19 outbreak began. Nebraska is a primary example of that fact. The state has seen the employees of meat-packing plants, and residents of the surrounding towns, hit hard by the virus recently.

"I've never seen anything like this in the 20-plus years I've been a paramedic," said Dan Duncan, a flight paramedic for StarCare, an Air Methods base located in Crete, Nebraska. He added that the COVID-19 patients, he has transferred are "probably some of the sickest patients I've ever seen."

During a week in mid-April, CHI Health St. Francis hospital in Grand Island was transferring patients to hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha several times a week, with Air Methods airlifting many of the sick.

You can see some of our team members recounting their work in Nebraska in this piece from Fox 42 in Omaha.

The work continues

Be it caring for people injured in a car accident, or for those suffering from COVID-19, EMS crews continue to prove their worth day in and day out. At Air Methods, we are incredibly proud to have a team of professionals across the country who live in the communities they serve and dedicate their lives to ensuring their neighbors are safe and healthy.

If you have the chance, during this week or any other, thank an EMS professional. They deserve all our gratitude. 

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