Saving lives isn’t for everyone, but Air Evac Lifeteam 38 in Kirksville does it almost every day. When patients need quick transportation, pilots, nurses and medics are ready to answer the call.
The Air Evac base, like all the others spread across 15 states, operates 24/7 year-round to ensure optimal patient care for the surrounding rural communities. Bases mostly are funded through $65 annual memberships which provide members with insurance for a flight. Otherwise, patients might end up with a $20,000 bill.
Flying is a Lifestyle
The pilots are dedicated to their craft in a way that’s uncommon to most other jobs.
“It’s not an 8 to 5 job where you go to work and leave it at work,” says Base Pilot Supervisor Douglas Busch. “Being an aviator is a lifestyle… Flying is one of those things that once you get it in your blood you can’t get rid of it.”
The pilots who fly for Air Evac have found a way to use their skills to help people in need of medical care that saves lives.
“A lot of times you do the job, and it’s a thankless job,” Busch says. “And other times people go out of their way to come back and let you know how grateful they are for what you’re doing.”
Air Evac has made a real impact on the community. Pilot Chamberlin Meek describes the amount of time it took to get a patient to urgent care before and after Air Evac’s arrival in the area.
The number one consideration for the pilots is safety — not only of the patients, but also for the crew on board. If weather conditions are less than optimal, the pilots must refuse to take a flight for the safety of everyone involved. If it’s unsafe to fly, the team must respond quickly and arrange for the patient to be transported on the ground, most likely via an ambulance. The company has also made large investments in safety measures, including the addition of night vision goggles to aid the pilots during night flights.
“The amount of money spent on safety is unbelievable,” Meek says. “They don’t take shortcuts on safety.”
Meek also described the importance of the whole crew operating safely and efficiently. A pilot and two medical personnel can be on their way to pick up a patient within five minutes of getting a call.
The Pilots Love Their Job
Even though flying can be a dangerous job, the safety measures help reduce the risk, and the mission to help people keeps the crew motivated.
“I could never imagine doing something else,” Meek says. “If something happens to me, at least I’m saving someone.”
Another pilot, Tony Davidson, agrees that flying for Air Evac is a unique and rewarding career.
“This is not a mundane job,” Davidson says. “We get to see things from the air that most people can’t even imagine.”
For more information about Air Evac memberships, safety, and location of bases, visit www.lifeteam.net.