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12 January 2021
12. January 2021 Helicopters

Methodist AirCare: saving lives and delivering inspiration

How the view from a little girl’s hospital room may have changed her future forever

Crew members from Methodist AirCare welcomed their new honorary teammate Bodhi with a flight aboard the operator’s EC135 helicopter, visible in the background

 

Based in the U.S. state of Texas, Methodist AirCare proudly serves local communities in need of advanced emergency health care and rapid medical transport. The following profile highlights one of its recent missions with a very special patient.

Meet Bodhi, age 5. She spent 58 days looking out of her hospital window at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. And the view she had from this room may very well have altered the course of her life forever.

Her room was on one of the hospital’s top floors, looking out onto the helipad, where Bodhi saw the yellow Methodist AirCare EC135 helicopter taking off and landing on a daily basis. One day, to her surprise and disappointment, she no longer saw the helicopter and asked one of her nurses what had happened to it.

The nurse told her that the helicopter was still flying, transporting patients and saving lives, but that it had simply gotten a new home base close by at the San Antonio Regional airport, from where it would fly either to local hospitals or to accident scenes to transport patients that needed its help.

Bodhi takes a commemorative photo with Methodist AirCare’s EC135 helicopter visible in the background.

Bodhi, a patient at Methodist Children’s Hospital in Texas, was inspired by the Methodist Air Care EC135 that she watched from her top-floor hospital room.

Jumping at the chance to help

“Bodhi and her nurses continued to chat when they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she responded without missing a beat – a flight nurse,” explained Jose Flores, programme director for Methodist AirCare. “This immediately sparked something in the teams who then came to our flight crew and asked if we could help. We, of course, jumped at the chance.”

Methodist AirCare, a REACH Air Medical Services and Air Evac Lifeteam programme, has been flying their EC135 since 2009, providing life-saving air medical flights throughout San Antonio. Bronson Smith, a paediatric flight nurse with Methodist Children’s Hospital, called another member of the team, Stefanie Cruz, and asked if it would be possible to make something happen for a special patient. They immediately went into action, procuring a miniature flight suit and boots, and organising for Bodhi to become an honorary flight nurse of the Methodist AirCare team, and to take her very own first flight in the EC135.

“Right away I was drawn in and so intrigued,” said Cruz. “Bodhi's determination, resiliency, and ability to fight against all odds is really the equivalent of what it takes to become a successful crew member in the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) industry, so I think this is why she has touched so many of our hearts.”

The community comes together for Bodhi

The entire community sprang into action to make Bodhi’s day possible. A neighbour of Stefanie’s donated the flight suit even though it had sentimental value for her family, as she knew it would bring a smile to Bodhi's face. Another neighbour volunteered her time to stitch the rainbow stripes on the suit. Stefanie’s daughter spent hours making the special beaded personalized bracelets. They also made her a custom teddy bear, which Bodhi named "Heli," short for “helicopter.”

“I'm hoping that Bodhi and her family carry these memories with them forever,” Cruz added. “We are so lucky in our field to be able to help others, and if I can encourage just one young person to grow up and consider life as a HEMS provider then I know our industry will have a great future ahead. I hope we solidified Bodhi's career choice and that maybe when she is all grown up, I'll see her up in the friendly skies, doing the best job ever.”

Bodhi is shown inside the Methodist AirCare EC135.

An entire community came together to help deliver an unforgettable experience for Bodhi.

Going above and beyond

Air medical operations with helicopters began in the U.S. in the 1970s, with the Airbus Alouette starting off as the first air medical helicopter. Over the years, the technologies have advanced, the aircraft have changed, but the mission has remained the same: to save lives. More than 80% of all twin-engine helicopters delivered for air medical operations in North America since 2007 have been delivered by Airbus, which is proud to continue to play a role in supporting these missions that save lives when minutes matter most.

“This year has been such a challenge with the pandemic, being sheltered in place, and with friends and loved ones being sick, and that’s why for us it felt so natural to go above and beyond for Bodhi,” Flores said. “This has been an amazing experience for everyone involved. I hope this story inspires all in the HEMS industry to stay positive and hopeful with our hearts and skills we use every day in saving lives, as we will overcome the most unimaginable virus affecting millions of people.” 

H145 performing public service operation

H135: Best-in-class performance

In 2018, two of the US’s largest EMS transport providers - Air Medical Group Holdings and American Medical Response – combined to form Global Medical Response (GMR). The company’s six air-based subsidiaries and dozens of ground ambulances now provide emergency medical transport for 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Emergency medical services

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