By Kelly LoCascio
Forward By Angel MedFlight Contributor
This week, Angel MedFlight’s acclaimed neonatal team was called upon to help transport a five-week-old infant suffering from a rare digestive condition. The mother would accompany the little boy on the almost 2,300-mile journey from Scottsdale to Boston. The infant was headed for Boston Children’s Hospital where he’d receive lifesaving treatment from a specialist. He’d also be reunited with someone very special in his young life.
Kelly LoCascio is the Chief Compliance Officer for Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance and would go with the patient, mother and crew on this journey as a company spokesperson.
Our employees speak and write about the unparalleled service this company provides on a daily basis, but it’s not until one gets the chance to actually accompany the patient and crew on one of our medical flights that they get the clearest representation of the kind of care our critical care flight nurses and critical care flight paramedics provide.
LoCascio was so moved by the experience she penned a diary of the event:
I have been with Angel MedFlight since 2008. With just five employees when I came on board, I feel I have worn almost every hat I am capable of wearing for the company. As a lawyer and compliance officer for Angel MedFlight I know every flight, I know why the flight needed to happen, I have scoured the medical records, I know the capabilities and credentials of our medical teams and pilots and I appreciate the complexity of every mission. At least, that is what I thought until I flew a mission with our neonatal team.
Air ambulance is not a topic you discuss at the coffee shop. It is not something you plan for as you pack your bags for your summer family vacation. Air ambulance missions happen around you 24 hours a day and you probably never notice the men and women in their flight suits and equipment. “What is going on?” or “What is Angel MedFlight?” are the questions I get as people pass by the aircraft as our crews load patients. I have answered these questions a thousand times in my five years and every time I explain it I feel the emotion of the complexity of the situation sink in with my new friend. Many questions follow.
Sitting in the back of the aircraft built to operate like an intensive care unit, the crew does not recognize I exist. After flying for years with Angel MedFlight people have the impression that transports become routine but nothing can be further from the truth. This is apparent as I watch the critical care team operate around one another, work with the family to answer their questions, and diligently care for the patient that there is nothing routine about their job. For the next five hours the life of this infant is solely in their hands. There is no second floor for more tests, there is no other team to bring in to consult, there is no waiting to see what the test results say because this medical crew is 35,000 feet in the air with nothing but their exhaustive training, natural skill and confidence in the team to get the patient to the receiving hospital where much needed specialized care is waiting.
With every beep of the baby’s machine and change in the monitor I find myself get tense. I catch myself staring constantly at the changing numbers and the expression of this little man who joined this world just five weeks ago. The crew continues to document this tiny patient’s every move and is focused on what he needs minute by minute. Then I look to his momma. She is at peace. Everything is under control. Her entire world is sitting right next to her hooked up to machines and monitors and is in the hands of the elite of the elite in air ambulance transports. His daddy is waiting in Boston for this aircraft to arrive and he is certain to have missed them both dearly for the last four weeks as he has been away serving his country in the military. The specialist that will give her son the chances he needs in life is most likely preparing to care for his newest patient. I sense that this trip could not have come fast enough and now reality has allowed her to accept that her baby is headed to where he needs to be.
As we land I think to myself…we are doing something truly amazing. I have felt this same feeling on many instances as I combed the records of a patient needing transport. In fact I defend the availability of transports like this every day for our patients. I understand ERISA, the intricacies of insurance benefits, aviation regulations and medical standards. Those words I write on a daily basis are artful but are nothing compared to the emotion impressed upon you when you are in the middle of the mission. Air ambulance will never be a dinner topic and it never should be. But when asked I simply hope that I can articulate for the inquirer what it means to have this service available no matter what time of the day or where you are in the world. When the unplanned happens, the planning that has gone into bringing a loved one to where their medical needs demand has been precisely perfected by Angel MedFlight.
I am happy to answer the questions when you see Angel MedFlight on my shirt because I am extremely proud of what this small team of like-minded individuals has accomplished. My words will never do the mission justice and they do not have to. I smile as I write this because the mission, much like the expression on the face of a mother sitting next to her baby in a flying intensive care unit, speaks for itself.