By Geoff Flossic
Flight For Life Colorado crews and staff from all over the state gathered at Centennial Airport for the annual tradition of the dedication and blessing of aircraft and ground vehicles July 13 at Mayo Aviation. Amelie Buchanan, the chaplain for Flight For Life Colorado, blessed each aircraft and vehicle and recited some prayers. Other people at the ceremony read poetry.
The annual tradition has been taking place since 1999 at the Mayo Aviation hangar.
“Mayo has been so great to us,” said Kathy Mayer, program director.
Mayer has been with the program since 1984 when she started out as a flight nurse. She has flown on all of Flight For Life Colorado aircraft. She went into the administrative side and in 1999 became program director.
“I miss the flying, but more so the patient care I provided,” Mayer said.
Buchanan is one of the only chaplains for an air medical transport program in the country. She’s been with Flight For Life Colorado a little more than two years and flies with crews from Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
“I provide not only spiritual guidance but educational guidance as well to the crews,” Buchanan said.
She meets with crewmembers individually. Whether someone is having work or personal issues, she’s there for them. She also meets with patients and their families and will fly with them, providing any counseling or comfort they may need.
Flight For Life Colorado, a not-for-profit organization, holds several major fundraisers throughout the year. Megan Peters, a development officer with Flight For Life, does all event planning and fundraising. She’s been with the company for a little more than a year.
“The biggest fundraiser this year was held at the Sanctuary golf course; we raised more than $400,000 in the two-day event,” Peters said.
Flight For Life Colorado provides more than $4 million in un-reimbursed or charity care on average per year. The organization offsets that amount through fundraising and other events.
“We will pick anyone up, even if they don’t have life insurance or a penny to their name, and they will be taken care of,” Peters said.
Flight For Life Colorado became this country’s first medical air ambulance program in October 1972, and has been in continuous service since. The organization has become the model for air ambulance programs worldwide. It has logged more than 75,000 missions since 1972.
On average, there are about 4,000 transports (air and ground) per year. Today, Flight For Life Colorado covers more than 92,000 square miles. Helicopters are used in Colorado and fixed wing aircraft for surrounding states.
The fleet has four B3 AStar helicopters, two King Air 200 turboprops, one Learjet 35A and three critical care ambulances (two are in Denver and one is based in Frisco). The helicopters are rated as the best in the industry for mountain flying, and are able to land in very tight landing zones. They’re based in Denver, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Frisco, the highest medical helicopter base in the United States. The crews are made up of a pilot, flight registered nurse, respiratory therapist, flight paramedic and an EMT.
Founded by St. Anthony Hospitals, Flight For Life Colorado routinely transports patients to the closest hospital. St. Anthony is a full service, nonprofit health care organization with renowned medical programs such as trauma, orthopedic, neurosciences and cardiovascular services, and has been serving Colorado for more than 100 years. It has hospitals in Denver, Westminster and Frisco, and medical clinics in Copper Mountain, Granby and Winter Park. Sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives, St. Anthony Hospitals is part of Centura Health, which operates 12 hospitals, eight senior residences, medical clinics, home care and hospice services across Colorado.
For more information on St Anthony Hospitals, visit [http://www.stanthonyhosp.org].