I walked into flight communications realizing the room was quiet. The physical presence of the crew was missing, and over Terri’s shoulder, the mission’s flight path was mapped across the computer screen.
I blurted out the obvious, “So they are out then?”
She humored me. “Yup, should be landing back here any minute.”
I dropped my bags, half hearing the conversation she was having with Travis. For a good part of a 24 hour shift we have two people in our communications center, one to dispatch and manage flights, the other to handle ambulance communications for the entire county. Our communicators are the voice and brain of what we do. A good flight communicator releases the flight crew to do what we do best—care for the patient. They pick up the baton of a conductor and manage 30+ phone calls of coordination, sometimes battling other times begging and still other times demanding until they get what the patient needs. They need to know how to do what, when.
Some of the communicators may not realize it, but they can set the tone of a flight. Many have been doing it for so damn long they make it look as simple as breathing. In reality, the newbies have enormous expectations to live up to.
I walked over to the desk and leaned over to get a look as the aircraft approaches high. Without thinking, I interrupt the conversation flow between the two communicators.
“God, watching that thing land never gets old, even on a bad day it just makes me happy. How can I ever complain about my job?”
Terri turns, mid-sentence. Her strong, professional exterior breeched for a moment.
“It always reminds me that I get to go home and kiss my kids. Who ever we just transported doesn’t get to do that.”
The three of us silently watched the aircraft settle softly and gracefully. Back safe from another patient transport.
“Down safe, 1857,” Terri states over the radio, once again all business.
The crew was home, all was well. She resumed her conversation with Travis, almost at the very word she stopped on, consistent with the talents of those in EMS.
So many lives interrupted, in so many ways.