The experience of flying first-class

Published 5:20 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I’ve never flown on a commercial flight.  But the thought of flying first-class airfare brings images of a large and comfortable seat at the front of the airplane, special treatment from the flight crew, and amenities that other passengers do not get to enjoy.

As part of the Advocate’s day in the life series, I recently had a chance to fly first-class and it had all of the amenities you’d expect, but with one distinctive difference.  The flight was aboard a helicopter alongside some of the most amazing individuals that the medical field has to offer.   They were the crew of LifeFlight 3 Greenville, a Critical Care Air Medical Transport helicopter.

The LifeFlight 3 Greenville team works as a mobile response unit outside of a hospital setting, providing on-site emergency medical care to patients suffering from a severe injury, trauma or sickness.

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They are responsible for diagnosing their patient’s condition and providing proper medical support to aid in the recovery and stabilization of their patients while transporting them to a qualified health care facility.

Flight Nurse Donna Thrower and Flight Medic Phillip Champion were on duty the day that I tagged along and they were helpful in demonstrating and explaining the steps in how they assess their patient’s condition, administer medications, and perform advanced medical care.

Because of the unpredictable situations and injuries Thrower and Champion often encounter, they are highly trained and certified to perform critical medical assessment and care on a variety of different injuries and ailments.

Jim Rowe was the pilot the day that I shadowed the crew.  With 22 years of experience as a military combat search and rescue pilot, he is more than prepared for the emergency situations that come along with the job.  With no prior experience with flying in a commercial airplane, the thought of going up in a helicopter made me a bit nervous.  But the flight was smooth and easy as Rowe navigated the helicopter to an emergency demonstration scene.

When the team receives a call, they have a short window of only six minutes to check weather conditions, suit up and take flight.  Oftentimes, making them the first to arrive on the scene.

The crew of LifeFlight 3 Greenville has a genuine passion for their mission, and that passion is evident to anyone that has flown with this first-class crew.