Tips, advice and inspiration for people who keep air medical flights safe and those who are interested in air ambulance careers.


Flight Crew






September 2017
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America is the best country in the world.

“Proud to be an American” is more than a catchy slogan.

It’s our way of life.

If you or someone you love serves our country in the armed forces, you get my instant respect and gratitude. No discussion or debate required.

And here’s the best part: I believe most Americans share this viewpoint. Most Americans respect and appreciate those who serve now, and those who served our country in the past.

Why NFL Stars Should Get Off Their Knees

Why should National Football League (NFL) players get off their knees and stand for the national anthem?

Because standing is about respect.

Standing for the national anthem is about showing respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for this country. It’s really that simple.

Stand to show respect.

NFL players who kneel before football games do so to draw attention to racism in America. But they disrespect everyone who ever served in uniform by doing so.

NFL players don’t see it that way, because they don’t really see anything through the same lens as regular people. NFL players believe in their cause and believe it’s their right to kneel if they choose.

And you know what? They’re absolutely right. It is their right to kneel.

The constitution and first amendment guarantees this right to every American. The irony is the service men and women who died to give them this right — is the group they’re disrespecting the most, by kneeling. That’s the rub, or at least part of it.

The bigger rub is how NFL players are completely out of touch with average Americans. How NFL players believe their opinions are somehow more valuable than the average American’s opinion.

Newsflash: the average American thinks football players should stick to playing football. The average American thinks NFL players are overpaid and out of touch with reality. The average American thinks kneeling during the national anthem (for almost any reason) is unpatriotic.

But none of that explains why kneeling during the national anthem is stupid.

Why Kneeling is Stupid

Is shining a spotlight on racism important?

Yes, of course.

But bringing attention to racism by disrespecting every American who ever served or died for our country, is a stupid way to do it.

But don’t take my word for it. How do you know kneeling during the national anthem is a stupid way to draw attention to racism? Easy answer. The NFL already proved it.

Colin Kaepernick, a free agent quarterback famous for kneeling before football games, can no longer find work in the NFL.

Why can’t Colin Kaepernick find work? Why won’t an NFL team hire him?

The answer has nothing to do with Colin’s skills as a quarterback. The answer is that Colin Kaepernick is damaged goods. No team will take him because of all the bad publicity that comes with hiring him.

The Cleveland Browns also proved how stupid it is to kneel during the national anthem. You can read how Paramedic and Police unions boycotted the Cleveland Browns opener for kneeling during the national anthem.

Watch the NFL Take a Stand This Week

If you’re bothered by all of this, stand-by for a little poetic justice to come your way this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers forced the issue center stage.

The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team, except for Alejandro Villanueva, ex-Army Ranger, stayed in the locker room for the national anthem before their game with Chicago.

The backlash was quick and severe.

The American public is irritated and threatening to boycott the NFL. Now the NFL commissioner and team owners really have no choice but to start talking about the issue publicly. Even the president commented about the owner’s lack of control over the situation.

Stand-by to see the NFL commissioner and team owners ‘patriotism’ shine through like no other week this season. Now that their revenue is threatened, you’ll see a whole new appreciation for those who served.

Why EMS Stands for The Flag

It’s easy for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to stand for the flag.


Because EMSers are patriots. EMSers live in the real world. EMSers work hard for a lot less money and appreciation than the average NFL player.

But those aren’t the only reasons.

EMSers identify with our service men and women.

EMS is different than serving in the military, but it is about service.

Service is the bond the two communities share.

It’s time for NFL players to stand with EMS and their fellow Americans. It’s time to give respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and paid for our freedoms and privileges with their lives.

What do you think? Should NFL players stand for the national anthem? Is it disrespectful not to stand? Leave a comment below. It’s important and we appreciate your input.

Direct download: Why_EMS_Stands_for_The_Flag.m4a
Category:Career -- posted at: 8:40am EST

Let’s be honest.

We all want an awesome mentor.

Someone to take us by the hand and show us a better way.

Someone to save us time, money and frustration. How awesome would that be, right?

 Here’s the thing.

If you’re good at what you do, sooner or later the day will come when someone – an employee, co-worker, student or acquaintance – comes to you for advice.

Someone who is looking for a mentor, and to them, you fit the bill perfectly.

Is Mentoring Worth It

Is mentoring worth the effort?

In a word, yes.

But, it’s a very personal decision. You must decide how much value mentoring has to you.

After watching hundreds of professional flight crews mentor wannabe flight crews, I can tell you with certainty it’s a pretty great experience for all involved. A lot of times the mentor benefits as much or more than the mentee.


Because the feeling you get when someone tells you they’re “living their dream” thanks to your help, is pretty incredible. It’s right up there with someone thanking you for saving their life.

If you’re EMS, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So how do you do it? And how do you get good at it?

How do you become the amazing mentor you would want to have for yourself?

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

10 Tips for Becoming An Amazing EMS Mentor

1. Be a giver

It kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways.

Being a mentor is about being a giver. And it’s also about giving for the right reasons.

Know your priorities up front. Are you mentoring for the right reasons? If your only motivation is yourself, stop. Mentoring isn’t about you.

Don’t trap someone and force your personal story upon them.

Mentoring is about helping others for the right reasons. Give more than you get.

2. Give Advice Beyond Work

Think how shallow your life would be if all you did was work. If your biggest source of happiness was work.

Think how much you would be missing. I know from personal experience it’s not fulfilling. You can read 10 Warning Signs of Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome (AIDS)here.

The point is to give advice beyond work. Get to know the whole person. Find out their hopes, dreams, plans and schemes beyond work.

If you help a person advance their EMS or Air medical career and they’re still unhappy, how much did your really help them?

3. Set Expectations Up Front

Set expectations together in the very beginning.

Until you know exactly what a person wants to achieve, and how they hope to achieve it, you really can’t help them.

It’s important to sit down and go over expectations, especially if you’re just meeting each other or have spent little time together.

This scenario happens often with EMS. For example, a student aspires to become a paramedic and wants your experienced paramedic advice on how to do it.

You might be wondering if they want to work for your company, or if they’re just looking for advice on how to become a paramedic anywhere. It’s the type of thing you want to ask up front.

4. Approach Each Mentorship Differently

People are different. As a mentor, you need to adapt your style to what works best for the person seeking your advice. Again, remember that it’s not about you.

It’s about getting results for the person you’re helping.

Remind yourself what worked best for you, or the last person you mentored, may or may not work today.

We see examples of this in EMS Flight Safety Network all the time. What got one person hired as a flight medic a year ago, may or may not help a person who aspires to fly today. They’re two different people and a lot can change in a year.

5. Mentor with Passion

The greatest of mentors inspire their mentees and become living examples to emulate.

How do they do it?

They do it by exuding a genuine passion for their work. Get excited about EMS and what you do. Passion is contagious.

Remind yourself of why you chose an EMS career. Remind yourself it was a good decision then, and it’s still a great career now.

How To Be An Amazing EMS Mentor


Share a story that ignites your passion. Your commitment to EMS and why you picked EMS as a career will shine through.

6. Tell the Truth About Mistakes You’ve Made

Be open to sharing your mistakes and failures.

It’s hard to do, but it’s important for a lot of reasons.

Your mentoree puts you on a pedestal. Depending on their experience, they may or may not realize you’re as human and mistake prone as the rest of us.

Sharing your failures humanizes you and builds trust. We all know how humbling EMS can be. Help your mentoree by showing them how you’ve been humbled in the past.

7. Celebrate Their Successes

It’s easy to fall into an EMS negativity trap when mentoring. Great mentors avoid this trap.

It’s likely someone wants your advice or help with a problem they’re experiencing.

Great mentors quickly get past the problems and move on to the actions required to reach a solution.

When you take the time to highlight and even celebrate your mentee’s successes and achievements, you’re not just balancing out the mood of potentially negative conversations — you’re also building your mentee’s confidence, reinforcing good behavior, and keeping them focused and motivated.

8. Don’t Assume Anything

It’s easy to think everyone followed your path into an EMS or air medical career. But it’s not realistic.

Even when you have similar backgrounds e.g. same school, same town, same fire company, etc, it’s still important to guard against making assumptions.

The best way to learn your mentorees background is to ask. Let them tell their story. Listen intently to the details. It will make you a stand-out mentor.

9. Seek Out Classes or Projects

Use your experience to find classes and projects you know would help your mentoree.

Don’t waste anyone’s time with busy work. Remember, your mentoree isn’t stupid. They picked you as a mentor, right?

That’s why you have to find and recommend courses that they’ll find interesting, learn from and will actually help them.

It’s not difficult to do, but it takes more effort than recommending a computerized training system (CTS) with the same modules and questions they’ll be answering for years to come.

10. Lead by Example

We’ve all heard the cliche “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Well, there’s no room for it when mentoring. You have to actually “walk the walk.” This is important, especially in EMS.


Because EMS is full of mediocre managers and damn few leaders. It hurts me to write it, but it’s true. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of working for someone who isn’t qualified to do what you do, and has never done what you’re doing, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The silver lining is these folks never get asked to mentor. Nobody wants to follow in the footsteps of the incompetent manager everybody ridicules. And that’s the point! Don’t be that guy or gal.

Lead by doing. Lead by example.

What To Do Now

If you’re good at what you do, getting asked to mentor is really just a matter of time. It’s a question of when you’re asked, not if you’ll be asked.

That’s why there’s really no choice about it.

My best advice is to start getting ready now. It’s as easy as asking yourself what you really wish someone had told you before you started your career.

Get that answer ready in your head, and you’re off to a good start to becoming an amazing mentor.

Direct download: How_To_Become_An_Amazing_EMS_Mentor.m4a
Category:Career -- posted at: 11:23am EST

—And Why Truth Is So Hard To Find

Why do so many medical helicopters crash?

It’s a fair question.

One that begs an answer.


If you’re reading this, you’ve probably asked yourself this very question, right?

You’re a smart person, and you know most air medical crews are smart too.

Common sense tells you these professionals are taking every safety precaution possible.

Nobody rational goes to work thinking it’s their last day alive. No flight crews get into medical helicopters unless they believe it’s safe.


Medical helicopters keep crashing.


Before I share the EMS Flight Safety Network opinion on why medical helicopters crash, I want to address some of the arguments (ones I know you’ll hear), about why medical helicopters crash.

Stating The Obvious About Medical Helicopter Crashes

It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway.

The goal of all discussion regarding medical helicopter crashes is to prevent future crashes. Period.

Sadly, there are places on the internet where other agendas win out. That’s the reason I’m stating the obvious. Understandably, there’s a ton of emotion attached to every EMS helicopter crash.

When highly trained professionals risk their lives to help others, and then lose their lives in the process, it’s tragic and emotional.

No doubt about it.

That’s one of the reasons it’s important to talk about medical helicopter crashes. The best way to honor the memory of lost air medical crews is by taking personal responsibility for making air medical better and safer. Burying your head in the sand will not bring lost crews back to life, or protect future crews.

My Best Advice On Medical Helicopter Crashes

Answers about why medical helicopters crash are hard to find. Why?

Because truth is a tough demon to fight. It’s much easier to hide behind emotion than to address real issues.

When it comes to answers about why medical helicopters crash, my best advice is to constantly remind yourself that every health system, helicopter company and association has an agenda.

An agenda bigger than any one helicopter crash.

All have biases and preconceived ideas about what’s most important when it comes to medical helicopter safety.

These biases influence how they share information about medical helicopter crashes, and what actions they take to prevent them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it is something you definitely want to keep top of mind.

Never forget that your best advocate for crew safety is you.

Don’t be fooled by the “smoke and mirrors” of statistics from government agencies with unlimited budgets, time and people – who coincidentally, NEVER fly on medical helicopters.

If you’re professional air medical crew, wannabe crew or just someone who loves helicopters: remember that if something just plain feels wrong, it doesn’t matter how many people try to convince you it’s a new and better way. It’s still just plain wrong.

It really is that simple.

The Problem With Unlimited Information

You’ve probably heard the cliche about opinions and a-holes, right?

Well, there’s some truth to it.

Everyone has an opinion about why medical helicopters crash, but very few of these opinions have any basis in reality. Even fewer opinions come from people who have ever flown in medical helicopters.

This creates some practical challenges.

Think of it this way: you can’t lose weight reading a book about weight loss, right? You have to actually take action and DO the steps required to lose weight. Everyone gets this. But there are still thousands of weight-loss diets and libraries full of books about the best ways to lose weight.

And here’s the kicker: when it’s all said and done – move more, eat less – never really changes when it comes to weight loss.

Information about Medical helicopters works the same way.

You can find all kinds of information about medical helicopter crashes, but very little of that information is practical or useful. Most of the information has nothing to do with why helicopters crash and how to prevent future crashes. It’s typically one of two things:

  1. A wolf in sheep’s clothing – meaning it’s “safety information” with the real intent of forwarding a company or association agenda.
  2. Big data – reams of statistics and information that unfiltered is virtually useless.

But don’t take my word for it, do your own investigation.

Even a small amount of research will quickly lead you to conflicting information about why medical helicopters continue to crash.

So what’s the solution? Start by knowing and understanding your sources.

Examples Of Medical Helicopter Crash ‘Solutions’

The air medical industry likes to point fingers at information availability.

What is information availability and what does it have to do with medical helicopters?

Information availability is about how much news coverage is committed to any particular newsworthy event. In regard to medical helicopters, it’s a view that says all medical helicopter crashes get massive amounts of press and publicity.

Like all good arguments, there’s some truth to this viewpoint. Medical helicopter crashes do get lots of publicity and news coverage.

But, here’s the catch…

The people who push the information availability viewpoint would have you believe medical helicopters don’t crash very often. They describe medical helicopter crashes as statistically insignificant. They believe the number of medical helicopter crashes is so small that the real issue is more about public perception than helicopter crashes.

They believe when medical helicopters crash, the media jumps all over it and makes a big fuss about it. That’s the argument behind information availability as an answer to why medical helicopters crash.

For the record, since when is even one medical helicopter crash not a big deal? It certainly is a big deal to the countless lives it changes forever.

The Apples Vs. Oranges Medical Helicopter Solution

A second viewpoint of medical helicopter crashes is what I call the “apples to oranges” comparison and solution.

It goes something like this:

Government agencies with unlimited budgets and time recite mind-numbing statistics comparing commercial airline crashes to medical helicopter crashes.

Right about the moment your eyes glaze over from the sheer boredom of listening to the world’s worst public speakers read from their notes or powerpoint slides, the presenter admits medical helicopters do crash at a rate almost four times greater than commercial airlines.

This admission is immediately followed by a caveat about the explosive growth of the air medical industry over the last decade.

The end result is always some version of “more data is needed” before any conclusions can be made.

What is implied is that medical helicopter crashes may actually be decreasing or less than previous years in relative terms. What’s further implied is that somehow the FAA’s efforts had something to do with this decline in crashes.

To be kind, it’s not very helpful or useful information.

If after reading this section you’re angry that you’ll never get this time back in your life, please know that I feel your pain. Be thankful you got the cliff notes version of the typical government bureaucrat presentation.

What the FAA lacks in real results, they compensate for with repetition.

A Second Apples to Oranges Solution

A second “apples to oranges” comparison you’ll find without too much difficulty is a comparison of ambulance crashes to helicopter crashes.

This information is not useful or helpful in regard to preventing future helicopter crashes. The conclusion is always some version of how ambulances and ground vehicles experience many many more crashes than helicopters or aircraft. The conclusion typically circles back to tie in to the information availability argument.

The one positive to this comparison is how it highlights the real risks for our EMS ground providers. I’m glad to see these risks recognized and hopefully the exposure leads to positive change for ambulance staff.

So what’s the answer?

The Truth is Worse Than You Think

What’s the real truth about medical helicopter crashes?

The truth is there are no new reasons for helicopter crashes.

The air medical industry continues to make the same mistakes it made a decade ago.

Need proof?

Read the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports. What you’ll notice almost immediately are patterns. We keep repeating the same mistakes… over and over.

There are no “new” reasons for medical helicopter crashes, only new interpretations of the data. Sad, but true.

What To Do Now

So where do we go from here?

Now that we know the truth, what do we do about it?

The EMS Flight Safety Network opinion is the topic of different upcoming articles. Spoiler alert: you can definitely find some of our philosophies on improving the medical helicopter crash record in this article: 5 Ways EMS Goes from Good To Great.

Direct download: The_Truth_About_Medical_Helicopter_Crashes.m4a
Category:Career -- posted at: 10:25am EST