Air Life GA 10 provides area with top-notch care
By Caitlin Boland

Brad Tucker, flight paramedic; Ron Young, pilot; Wes Brown, clinical base lead and flight nurse; and Chad Rabun, flight paramedic, are shown next to the Air Life GA 10 helicopter. David Winnette, flight nurse, and Kevin Hopkins, mechanic, is not pictured.
The Air Life GA 10 crew comes to the aid of people in their worst situations.
The crew, stationed at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, fly in one of 13 Air Methods medical aircraft in Georgia. They cover a 30 nautical mile local area, some of which includes McDuffie, Warren, Washington, Jefferson, Wilkes, Richmond and Columbia Counties.
However, they can travel up to 150 nautical miles to transport patients to hospitals in Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah and many other large cities within that range.
According to Air Method’s website, they are the premiere air medical company in the United States, and the Thomson crew is part of that. The crew includes Brad Tucker, flight paramedic; Ron Young, pilot; Wes Brown, clinical base lead and flight nurse; Chad Rabun, flight paramedic; David Winnette, flight nurse; and Kevin Hopkins, mechanic.
Rabun said he started his journey to Air Methods in EMT school. After finishing school he worked as a ground EMT and then went to paramedic school.
“From there it’s just that goal of always operating in the highest level of patient care you can, and after being on the ground for a few years and working as a paramedic, I noticed there was a flight service nearby,” Rabun said. “I wanted to see what it would take to be a flight paramedic, and I got with Air Methods which I believe is the best company to work for. I was very excited about that. I’ve been here 11 years and absolutely love the job.”
The pilot, Young, said working as a pilot has been a dream of his since childhood. He joined the military, flying attack missions then med evac missions on a Black Hawk then search and rescue missions near the oil platforms as his first civilian job after the military.
“There’s obviously a shelf life in the military,” Young said. “I needed a job in the civilian world and still loved flying.”
Young said he decided to work at Air Methods because he saw it as the premier air medical company in the area.
The other flight paramedic Tucker said he got started as an EMT because of his interest in patient care.
“I wanted to do something more and have better knowledge for my patients so I went back to paramedic school,” Tucker said. “As the years went by, I began interacting with flight service and saw what they were capable of doing, and I wanted to be able to take more care of my patients. With the skill sets of the flight crews, I got really interested.”
Tucker has been with Air Methods since 2003.
Flight nurse Winnette said he had originally dreamed of being a pilot but his vision hindered him from joining the military and flying.
“My next love was medicine,” Winnette said. “I went to school to be a nurse. While in school, I was working in the ER in Statesboro. We would fly patients out of there, and I always thought that was really cool.” 
He then began working at a hospital in Savannah and worked with crews based there, and he said he was really impressed by the level of care the air medics were able to provide, how the flight crews were considered the elite care providers and how they pushed the best care possible for patients.
“I was able to work hand in glove with three different very experienced nurses that took me under their wing, and I was able to get a job with this base about four years ago,” Winnette said. “This has been a dream job. The level of care I can provide in the aircraft is lightyears beyond what I could do in the hospital.”
The other flight nurse and clinical base lead, Brown, got started in much the same way Winnette did. He graduated from nursing school and began working in an ER.
“I saw helicopter crews coming in and out of the ER, and it made me interested in learning what I could do to start flying,” Brown said.
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS, see the full story in the Aug. 10, 2017, issue of The McDuffie Progress. To have The McDuffie Progress delivered to your home or business each week, simply call 706-595-1601 to subscribe. Or, follow the link on our home page to subscribe.





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