Going Above & Beyond
The nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and the pilots...the communication specialists who respond to flight requests and handle logistical details...the mechanics who ensure flight safety aboard our aircraft...these are the people of REACH who work day in and day out. It's their job to provide life-saving missions to men, women, and children of our communities. It's their mission to serve.
Meet some members of our team:
Doug Stephan, Pilot in Command
REACH 7 - Marysville, CA
NEMSPA is proud to announce the winner of the 2011 Pilot of the Year Award – Mr. Douglas Stephan of Reach Air Medical Services.
Each year, NEMSPA accepts nominations for this award from the nationwide air medical transport community so that we may recognize an individual who stands out in terms of professional achievement and contributions to the safety of air medical operations.
Doug Stephan began his flying career as a Coast Guard pilot and carried his initial high standards for safety and mission accomplishment into his civilian career path. He is known for the high respect that he demonstrates for his fellow team members as well as for the patients that he carries. This is demonstrated by performing at the highest level as pilot in command while fully engaging his crews in aeronautical decision making. And his personal commitment to customer service is further demonstrated in the hospital environment as he willingly responds to questions from family members and hospital staff regarding the aviation aspects of the flight to the receiving facility. This service on his part allows more time for the medical team to attend to their duties.
His technical expertise is demonstrated by his being the “go-to guy” at his base for his knowledge of the General Operations Manual and Standard Operating Procedures. He is known not only for knowing the contents of the manuals, but for clarifying their application and for teaching team members the rationale behind the practices. This allows for the highest level of understanding and cooperation between team members.
Doug is a natural leader and educator. He demonstrates this on a daily basis during his briefings as he goes above and beyond what most would consider the norm. One of Doug’s passions is teaching AMRM along with several other topics in support of his organization’s new-hire and recurrent training programs. In addition, he also involves himself in his organization’s tenet teams in support of the quality and delivery of exceptional customer service. As a result of his skills and passion for teaching, he has become a sought after speaker on human factors and critical thinking, thus extending his influence beyond the boundaries of his own program.
One of Doug’s strongest attributes is in the area of safety – he is consistently the most aggressive performer of conducting the required monthly reviews of emergency procedures with clinical crew members. He is also one of his organization’s strongest advocates for the continuous improvement of their safety management system (SMS), with emphasis on a non-punitive self-disclosure reporting system along with all other elements of the Just Culture concept.
NEMSPA is proud to recognize Doug Stephan as the recipient of the 2011 Pilot of the Year Award. Doug will receive his award at the Air Medical Transport Conference in St. Louis in October.
Brandon Leffew, Communication Shift Lead
Flight Guard - Santa Rosa, CA
How long have you been at REACH?
I started in Flight Guard two years ago and I am currently a Communication Shift Lead.
Where were you born?
I was born in Santa Rosa at what was then called Community Hospital (Sutter Santa Rosa). I have lived both here and in Redding. I lived in Redding for 10 years and moved back to Santa Rosa when I was thirteen.
What lead you down the path to this business?
I had a friend who was working for a medical transport company. He got me interested in the medical field as a career. I started out as a patient attendant on a gurney van which is a step below an ambulance in terms of service. We would transport patients from a hospital to a convalescent home or from a convalescent home to a doctor’s appointment.
Shortly after that, I got my EMT-B certification and began working on BLS and CCT ambulances. I also worked as a BLS field training officer and moved up to become the training manager. I have also spent time working as a dispatcher, and held various administrative roles in quality assurance, human resources, and employee safety. I tried a little bit of everything.
How did you end up at REACH?
Brian (Bricker) was a co-worker at Pro Transport-1 where he worked with me as an EMT. He ended up leaving to work EMS in Oklahoma and we eventually lost touch with each other. When he came back to California, I found out through the grapevine that he was working at REACH. We got back in touch with each other. Brian told me about the opportunity to work for REACH in Flight Guard and the rest is history.
With the variety of experience that I had on my resume, I could have gone in a lot of different directions with my career. I am really happy that I chose to work at REACH. This job is very rewarding and everyone that works here is fun and easy going. REACH has been the perfect fit for me.
What is your day to day job?
We handle every call that comes in to Flight Guard and we get a lot of different types of calls. We take and dispatch IFTs and Scene Calls. We answer a lot of questions both for REACH employees and outside callers. We help hospitals to place patients that need higher level care. We help hospitals to arrange ground ambulance transport. We connect a lot of person to person phone calls. We track all in flight aircraft on GPS and notify hospitals of the ETA for all incoming helicopters. We arrange ground ambulances for REACH crews. The list goes on and on. Flight Guard is a group of coordinators and problem solvers and we handle anything that comes along no matter how weird it gets.
Our work requires that we are efficient and work as a team. On a Scene Call we will have one person taking the call information while another person is simultaneously dispatching the base and a third person is looking up the LZ coordinates. For an IFT we will have one person taking the call while another person is dispatching the base and a third person is calling to confirm the receiving hospital. Since, we will often handle multiple calls at once, we have to triage every task based on how time sensitive it is and constantly communicate with each other to stay organized.
What's the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is turning it off when you go home. You constantly think about how you can do something as fast and efficiently as possible. It's sometimes hard to turn this off when I walk out the door.
Since I've been at REACH, the most harrowing days are usually holiday weekends when we're slammed. We are especially busy during big events in the dunes where REACH 9 and REACH 11 respond to calls. We all know when these events are coming and we do our best to prepared, but it can get pretty crazy down there in the sand box.
What's your favorite part of your job?
Two things: First, the ability to help people when they are in need; being in a position to make a difference when someone is in need is a great feeling. I will always remember something an EMT instructor taught me: For each patient you come in contact with; you may be witnessing the worst day of that person's life. I try to always respect the fact that although it may be just another day for me, it is no ordinary day for our patients.
Second, my co-workers. Everyone who works here is friendly, intelligent, and generally just great people. The atmosphere here is awesome and everyone is like family.
What's something about your job that other people probably don't understand?
The job is a mesh between aviation, EMS, dispatch, and customer service. This job is a hybrid of other jobs that would be stand alone in other fields. We have to maintain a lot of cross disciplinary knowledge to perform this job. We generally speak three languages; medical, aviation; and English with about 700 acronyms mixed in. It can be a real challenge. Beyond that, we have to maintain a lot of specific information about the different areas we serve, who the pre-hospital providers, hospitals, and PSAPs are, how to pronounce some of the unusual city and county names in Oregon and Texas, and all of the “one off” rules that apply only in a certain place or under a certain circumstance.
What would you like others to know about Flight Guard?
It would be nice if people knew that we frequently find ourselves in situations where we have to triage tasks. The most important and time sensitive tasks are given greatest priority and completed first. If you call for something and we say we're busy and have to call you back, it is because we are very, very busy. We really hate to say no or push anything off until later, but if we do it is because there is something else that is very important that absolutely has to be done now.
What's something about you that others probably don't know?
I love animals. My wife and I have two dogs, three cats, and two turtles. We have a little zoo going on. Also, I like to crack jokes but I have a very mono-tone delivery, so sometimes even the people that know me best can’t tell when I’m being serious or joking.
What do you do in your free time?
I love to exercise, mainly weight training and running. I used to have a horrible lifestyle and I was almost 260 pounds. I made the decision to change that and I started exercising regularly and changed my diet. Since that day I have dropped almost 70 Lbs. and I feel really good about that. I like also like to watch goofy comedy movies (Talladega Nights, Old School and The Hangover were the most recent).
Who at REACH has impressed you and why?
Brian Bricker has impressed me. The amount of drive he has is amazing. He literally never stops. He is always working and thinking, coming up with things we need to work on or improve. I don't think he ever turns it off. You can call him at any time, day or night, and he will answer the phone.
And, REACH as a company has impressed me. I have never worked anywhere with such a strong company culture that values the important things. Everyone is on the same page and values the mission. That's one of the reasons I really like working here.
Mark Cicali, Lead Pilot
REACH - Upland Fire
Interview Courtesy of Aviation Safety Network
Mark joined REACH Air Medical Services as a member of the inaugural base expansion in Southern California. This marked his first post-military position and his entry into the EMS field. Mark has trained in the EC-135 and the Bell 407 helicopters. Mark has been an Aviation Safety Network representative since 2009 and is currently the lead pilot at the REACH base in Upland, California.
Mark Cicali has a Bachelor of Arts in economics and attended the University of Oregon as part of the National Student Exchange Program before receiving a commission in the United States Marine to train in Virginia. Mark subsequently received flight training in Florida, achieved a distinction on the Commodore's List and earned his wings as a Naval Aviator. Mark was subsequently selected to train and fly the AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter at Camp Pendleton in California.
This led to an assignment to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 and deployment to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in support of Operation Desert Storm; aboard the USS Okinawa for rapid response operations in the western pacific; Somalia, Africa for Operation Restore Hope; and Okinawa, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment program. He held various leadership positions throughout the Squadron including Flight Officer, Aviation Safety Officer, and Quality Assurance Officer.
In 1994, Mark spent two years training pilots in the AH-1W attack helicopter then as a member of the Officer Selection team responsible for the recruiting of Marine Officers and Pilots to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. After being transferred to Marine Air Group 39 he spent a year on the headquarters staff until joining Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 and being deployed at the Detachment Officer in Charge of the Light Attack helicopters aboard the USS Essex out of Okinawa, Japan. He was immediately dispatched to Indonesia after the attacks of 9/11 becoming the primary planner for aviation operations for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and planning the evacuation of all US personnel from Indonesia.
Upon return to the United States, Mark joined the international staff of NATO in a branch of the Joint Sub-Regional Headquarters, Stavanger Norway becoming deputy J7 and an exercise planner for the Joint Warfare Centre following the transformation of NATO. He deployed to Baghdad, Iraq to train senior Iraqi officers in operations. On return to Camp Pendleton in California he completed 20 years of active duty as the Operations Officer of the largest squadron in the Marine Corps until retiring in 2008.
Mark has earned many military awards during the course of his career. He is experienced in a variety of aircraft including EC-135, B407, AH-1J/W, UH-1N, MD-500/300, BELL 206, SA 341 Gazelle, T-34 Mentor, CESSNA 414/401, BEECH 76.
Mark is married to the former Ms. Tondra Meyer and has two sons, Tyler and Kyle. He currently resides in Aliso Viejo in California. In his free time, Mark enjoys soccer, sailing, and skiing.