It is my honor to have served with Alaska's pre-hospital care providers over the last many years. Flight medics, flight nurses, ambulance medics and those who volunteer as medics are characterized by compassionate, hard-working, intelligent people doing the toughest job in medicine.
I know the crew of the Lifeguard helicopter as careful, well-trained people that knew Alaska well. Unfortunately, travel in Alaska whether by ground, water, or air cannot be made risk-free no matter the training and technology available.
We lost the best and brightest with that helicopter crash in Prince William Sound on Dec. 3, and this will forever leave an emptiness in our hospitals, EMS agencies and communities that knew these fine men.
It is a personal loss to my family and me, as well. Gaye McDowell was the patient on that flight, and I can only imagine the suffering her family endures at her loss. She is also important to our pre-hospital community, and it is especially cruel that we were so close to delivering her to the same high-level care that urban Alaskans enjoy. I have been heartened to hear her name read at every memorial for the flight crew.
We will not forget Gaye because she and other patients are the reason behind our emergency care service. This dedication to provide the highest possible level of emergency care is why, from the ashes of this tragedy, other teams will form, bringing competent and caring medical help to our patients as safely as possible.
Dr. W. L. Cooper
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