Mercy Air Crew, Pasadena First Responders Reunite with Former Patient


Patient experiences unique care via Mercy Air program across state lines

PASADENA, CA – March 28, 2024 – In a special reunion, Mercy Air 2 reconnected with former burn patient, 18-year-old America Salmeron at the Pasadena Police Department heliport. Salmeron, a Pasadena resident, is a unique patient as three different Mercy Air medical flight crews provided care across state lines on her journey of healing.

“I knew Mercy Air transported me back home, but until we started planning this reunion, I didn’t know the same program airlifted me from the accident in Nevada,” said Salmeron. “I still have a long journey to fully recover but I’m grateful to be standing here today to reunite with the crew and Pasadena first responders.”

In the fall of 2023, Salmeron was vacationing just outside of Las Vegas, NV where she experienced what could have been a fatal dune buggy accident if it wasn’t for her determination, courage, and will to survive. High speed ultimately led to the dune buggy accident, causing the vehicle to flip and quickly ignite a fire. Trapped in the passenger’s seat, Salmeron worked herself free from the vehicle but was severely injured from the fire. Local EMS arrived on scene and because of the severity of Salmeron’s condition, called upon Mercy Air 21 based in Pahrump, NV, to provide critical care and transport to University Medical Center for higher-level care.

Salmeron sustained third-degree burns, covering more than 50 percent of her body. Twenty days post-accident, Salmeron was stable enough to travel via air medical transport to Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center for care closer to home. Due to inclement weather in Southern California, Mercy Air 7 team in Henderson, NV worked diligently and quickly with its Mercy Air 2 sister team in Victorville, CA to coordinate through instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions and safely transport Salmeron and her mother to Grossman Burn Center where she remained for nearly three months.

“The unwavering commitment to excellent patient care and grit of the Mercy Air teams to overcome many obstacles, allowed this courageous, young woman to recover near her home with family and friends close by,” said Pasadena Fire Department Chief Chad Augustin. “I’m sincerely grateful. It doesn’t go unnoticed that the Mercy Air program committed two aircraft and many hours of flight time to ensure that our America was safely and successfully brought home to recover.”

Salmeron has a special connection to the Pasadena Fire Department. Before her accident, Salmeron was a Fire Explorer with the department, with hopes of one day becoming a firefighter. While her dream of becoming a firefighter isn’t out of grasp, she recognizes she has limitations from her injuries.

“I knew I always wanted to do a job that was different, one that wasn’t in a woman-dominated career. I didn’t want a routine job. In the fire service, every call is different,” said Salmeron. “Although I might have some limitations now, I won’t let that stop me from reaching my dream to be a firefighter. I recently found hope in a news story where a person had more than 70 percent of his body burned at a young age and still achieved his dream of becoming a firefighter. I want to prove to myself and to the world that I’m determined to do that, too!”

Nearly healed from the burns, Salmeron still has a long road to a full recovery. Salmeron will require reconstruction surgeries as she is not able to fully extend her right arm and does not have fully functional fingers on her left hand.

“It’s not every day that we get to reunite with a unique patient like America,” said Mercy Air Flight Paramedic Jose Orozco. “We’re thankful to be a small part of her journey to recovery. It took excellent coordination and resources to accomplish this mission. We couldn’t have done it without the help of dispatchers, partners, leadership, clinicians, and pilots – all who are willing to go the extra mile to help patients.”


About Air Methods
Mercy Air is part of Air Methods (, the nation’s leading air medical service, delivering lifesaving care to more than 100,000 people every year. With over 40 years of air medical experience, Air Methods is the preferred partner for hospitals and one of the largest community-based providers of air medical services. Air Methods’ fleet of owned, leased, or maintained aircraft features approximately 400 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Air Methods Ascend is the company’s clinical education program, allowing critical care nurses and paramedics best-in-class training opportunities using high-fidelity manikins, virtual reality, and cadaver labs.

For interviews contact:                                                           
Denisse Coffman
Air Methods, Vice President of Corporate Communications