AirLIFE 5 Holds Open House to Say Thanks to the Community, and the Community Gives Thanks in Return


Event brings together various local agencies, partners, and community members 

Uvalde, TX, Mar. 23, 2023 As a way of saying thank you for the amazing community support over the years, San Antonio AirLIFE 5 in Uvalde held a community open house at their hangar on Thursday, March 23.  

About 50 guests, plus approximately 20 cadets from the Southwest Texas Junior College Law Enforcement Academy, came to meet the air medical crew, look inside the helicopter and see their specialized equipment, hear from local dignitaries, and enjoy a lunch catered by Uvalde Cafe. The event took a special turn as guest speakers used the opportunity to thank the AirLIFE 5 crew for their service to the community as multiple agencies came together in celebration. 

“I know you’re hosting this for the community, but we’d like to thank you for being here, for being a part of our community. This is a blessing for our community to have this service here, and to have your support and your staff in a medical emergency,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told AirLIFE 5. “We’re glad you’ve become part of our community.”  

The AirLIFE 5 crew was thrilled to welcome one of their former patients, Johnny Cazares. The area teenager was transported by helicopter when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident caused by an existing but unknown brain bleed last summer. At the event, Cazares and his family were able to meet Paramedic Joel Ramirez and Pilot Ryan Wilkins who responded to the accident scene and flew him to the hospital. The family was able to look inside the helicopter and Cazares even got to sit in the cockpit for a close-up view of the controls. 

“You all went above and beyond the call of duty to provide the necessary care and support that ultimately saved my life,” said Cazares. “Thank you for everything you did to ensure my wellbeing during such a difficult and trying time. Your professionalism and expertise and compassion have left a lasting impression on me. You are true heroes, and I will forever be grateful to each and every single one of you.”  

Ramirez, who was instrumental in organizing the event, presented Cazares with a special gift of Uvalde AirLIFE wings representing his flight with the crew, along with a “challenge coin” symbolizing that he is part of the AirLIFE 5 team. Following the presentation of the gift, Ramirez went on to express his gratitude for his crew and for their partnerships throughout the community. 

“The most important things are the three Ps: our patients, our partners, and our people,” said Ramirez. He gave special thanks to the mayor, the city, the EMS and fire departments, and Uvalde Memorial Hospital. “This is what makes a community, all these people who are willing to put their time and their effort into this.”  

Other notable guests included Assistant City Manager Joe A. Cardenas, District 2 Councilman Hector Luevano, and District 4 Councilman Stephen Balke, and representatives from the Uvalde Chamber of Commerce, Concan Fire Department, Vanderpool Fire Department, Uvalde EMS, Alamo Area Ambulance, Uvalde Police Department, and Uvalde Memorial Hospital. 

AirLIFE 5 has been operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since 2012. This year they are on track to complete their 3,000th flight of critically ill or injured patients in the area.  

“We are grateful to everyone who came out to spend the day with us,” said Ramirez. “The support of this community is so meaningful to us, and we can’t say thank you enough. We hope today’s event gives people a glimpse of our appreciation.”