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Happy Thanksgiving from EMS Flight Safety Network

— Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

First, because I get to eat great food and fall asleep watching football in a tryptophan induced coma.

And second, because it reminds me to stop grumbling and remember all the amazing things in my life.

EMS Flight Safety Network is full of things to be grateful for.

Here is the EMS Flight Safety Network list of 15 things we humbly ask you consider adding to your own “gratitude list” this year.

1.  Nurses, Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians

Have you ever seen someone save a life? I have. It’s overwhelming. A powerful combination of awe and humility all at the same time.

EMS Flight Safety Network nurses, paramedics and EMTs never describe themselves as heroes or lifesavers.

But I do.

Every nurse and paramedic I ever flew downplayed their lifesaving accomplishments. They routinely referred to lifesaving miracles as “just doing their job.” And they meant it.

I’m grateful for people who make saving lives their work…and do it with humility.

2.  The Utility of Helicopters

Helicopters are great machines.

There’s no other machine on the planet that can bring the emergency room to you.

Equipped properly, helicopters fly instrument approaches to hospital heliports or to the same international airports the airliners fly.

Helicopters save lives . . .

And being part of that lifesaving process is something I’m thankful for.


3.  The Generosity of Volunteers

What are you doing tomorrow at 3 a.m.?

If you’re like me and most others, you’re sleeping.  And you will stay asleep until you wake up for work.

But that’s not what volunteers do.  Volunteers get out of bed anytime someone needs their help.

Volunteers get up anytime police need help clearing an accident scene. Anytime someone needs assistance with crowd control.  Anytime a medical helicopter needs a landing zone.

These folks do a stand-up, professional job. And they do it for free, no questions asked.

I’m grateful for volunteers.

4. Law Enforcement and Police Officers

Nobody gets saved or helped until a scene is safe and secure.

Police (and others) make this happen for EMS Flight Safety Network.

It’s human nature to avoid trouble.

But cops are paid to run toward trouble. To make unsafe places safe for the rest of us – including EMS.

I’m grateful for police and law enforcement and the work they do for all of us.

5.  Night Vision Goggles

Imagine standing in a pitch black room.

No outside light.  No visual references. Complete darkness.

Now imagine turning on a small flashlight. Creating just enough light to see the corners of the room. Creating just enough light to safely walk across the room and out the door.

Can you see (and feel) the difference?

Because the difference between pitch black and just a smidge of light, is huge.

That’s the kind of difference Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) bring to the air medical industry. Huge.

I’m grateful for a tool that keeps air medical crews safer.

6. Dispatchers and Hospital Communication Specialists

Have you ever watched a talented juggler at a circus?

Watched the focus required to juggle three, four, or more balls at the same time?

It’s scary impressive.

And that’s how I think of emergency dispatchers and hospital communication specialists.

Talented jugglers . . .

Except for one very important exception.

Emergency dispatchers and hospital communication specialists aren’t juggling batons or balls. They’re juggling lives.

In some cases, my life. Or the lives of my kids, my wife, my mom . . . or somebody’s mom.

I’m grateful for skillful EMS Flight Safety Network dispatchers and communication specialists.

7.  Aircraft Mechanics

You probably hate it when your car leaves you sit or refuses to start, right?

Or worse yet, unexpectedly just stops running?

In the air medical field, we really really hate it when an aircraft does the same.

Aircraft mechanics keep air medical flying.  Airplanes, and helicopters in particular, are both rugged, yet delicate machines.  Machines that require constant attention. The maintenance is extensive and ever-recurring.

I’m grateful for the aircraft mechanics who keep air medical flying safely.

8.  The EMS Family

Family is a word rarely used to describe a workplace.

Family is special — and work is, well . . . work.

Yet, family is how most in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) describe their co-workers.


Because EMS is special.  And what makes it special is the people.

I’m grateful for a career with camaraderie, purpose and family-like relationships.

9.  The Karma of Goodwill

Karma is powerful stuff.

The kind of stuff that changes the world.

Do you know what happens when you work with honest, good and caring people?

You guessed it.  You become one of those people.

I see examples of goodwill karma all the time.  I’m grateful for a career with positive karma built right into the job.

10.  The Social Web

I’m grateful for the social nature of the web.

A medium where a one-person-show (or small group) can improve an entire industry.

A place where if you provide value and goodness to people, they will spread your message far and wide. A place where the message is what matters, not who sent it.

A way to change the world.

No special terms or conditions required.

11.  Firefighters and Landing Zone Coordinators

In the United States, fire departments setup 90% of the landing zones for air medical helicopters.

Fire chiefs or their designated representatives act as Landing Zone Officers and communicate directly with pilots and medical crews on medical helicopters.

Firefighters also fire-guard aircraft when medical helicopters land and depart.

And firefighters assist with crowd control and loading of patients aboard medical helicopters. After flying for 20+ years, I’m proud to say firefighters are some of the most generous and caring folks I had the pleasure to work with.

I’m grateful for the professionalism of firefighters and landing zone officers.


12.  A Job That Helps People

I’m proud of the work I did as a helicopter pilot.

I’m proud of the work helicopter pilots do for air medical (and others) day-in and day-out.

Pilots don’t save lives like EMS Flight Safety Network nurses, paramedics and EMTs do. But they do help others in their own way.

I’m grateful for the blessings that came with being a helicopter pilot. The people, the places, the lives saved.

I’m grateful for the path flying took me on, and for where it leaves me today.

13.  Connections with Incredible People

Whatever it is you like to blog or write about, there are amazingly cool people who like to blog and write about that, too.

They’re posting wonderful articles and interesting perspectives and asking fascinating questions.

And you can get to know them just by writing about their stuff (with a link, of course), posting reasonably intelligent comments on their blog, and following them on Facebook or Twitter.

I am humbled and amazed by the success of FlightSafetyNet blog —  Over 100,000 unique visitors every month. I am thankful for every single one.

When I got out of the cockpit for the last time, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I identified with being a pilot so strongly I wasn’t sure I could do anything else. I was afraid.

But I have a strong faith, and I knew if I used my skills to help people, God would see me through. And He did.

I’m grateful for all the wonderful FlightSafetyNet blog readers, INSIDER future flight crew coaching students, and company-level EMS social media clients.

It really is one big family.

14.  People Who Support EMS

Supporting a husband, father, wife, mother or daughter who routinely misses family events to help strangers, is hard work.

It takes a special kind of person to support an EMS professional, even when you’re in love with them.

I think we all take our own spouses, significant others and families for granted too often.

Don’t make that mistake this Thanksgiving.

Pull them aside and tell them thanks for putting up with all the “EMS things” you do.

15.  EMS Flight Safety Network

There’s something special about EMS, Fire and Police services looking out for each other.

It makes sense. People identify with it.

I’m humbled and amazed by the success of EMS Flight Safety Network.

Thank you to the 175,000 plus facebook fans and over 38,000+ social media followers & email newsletter subscribers.

Without a network, there is no ‘Net’ to catch us and keep us from becoming ground or air medical statistics.

Thank you for being there.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

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