June 4, 2007

Survival Flight Crash

As an emergency medicine resident at the University of Michigan I spent 3 years flying with the Survival Flight medical transport team. We mostly flew in Bell 430 helicopters, but occasionally we flew on the jet for longer transports.

I flew hospital to hospital transfers, a few organ procurement missions, and (the best) trauma scene calls. I landed in cornfields, on interstates and county roads, and all over the midwest.

On one of the most memorable missions, we flew to Ludington, a little city that sits on Lake Michigan. As we were getting close on the non-instrument flight (meaning we were flying by vision only, not by instruments), an unexpected snowstorm created white-out conditions and we ended up with a way-scary ride over Lake Michigan!

Monday at 4pm, the University of Michigan Survival Flight program lost a Cessna Citation jet with 6 crew and a set of just-procured lungs into Lake Michigan shortly after take-off from Milwaukee. 2 pilots, 2 nurses, and the 2 physicians on board are presumed dead. The patient who was supposed to receive the lungs is back in ICU in critical condition.

I didn't know any of the crew onboard, but it still tears at me a little. 6 highly accomplished people died trying to be the hero for a guy that might die without their help. He might get another set of lungs, but double lungs healthy enough to transplant are relatively hard to come by.

And their families... I flew close to a 100 missions in my 3 years, and I never once thought that I wouldn't make it home to hug my kids again. I feel so bad for their kids, for their partners, for their parents...

Sometimes life doesn't seem very fair.
Please keep in your prayers the families of these lost 6, and for the guy holding onto life by a thread who still is waiting for a set of lungs.

Here's a link if you want to read more:

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.


Matt said...

That tears me up as well. Life is so precious.

stronger said...

What loss to the medical community and all the families.

TriTimKC said...

Sad news man. Hang in there. Good time for extra hugs for you kids.

ironjenny said...

That is so sad. I will of course add those families to my prayers. They all made such a positive difference in the world while they were here.

Bike Chick said...

Very sad news. My thoughts are with all of them.

Mallie said...

Thanks for posting, Jack. Everyone should know what kinds of heroes these folks are. My mom had a liver transplant at the start of her saga, and it was people like you and those lost that gave her that extra bit of time with her family. Thank you.

momo said...

oh, jack, this is so sad! i don't even know what to say - the loss is just heartbreaking.

you stay safe!

Robin said...

What sad news. My dad flew air ambulances when I was a kid and I always worried when he went out in the middle of the night. I'm sorry for those families who lost their loved ones, they are all heroes.

hak said...

I heard about this earlier in the week and presumed they perished in the crash. I'll have to check the news to see what the latest update is.

I often have to fly on a small turboprop for work and am not crazy about it. The pilot is retired Air Force and is very conservative...which I and my family appreciate. However, that doesn't stop my gallows humor by referring to the plane as the "Governor Killer." It seems these are the types of planes that knock off a few state elected officials from time to time.