Don Wharton

Director of Business Development

We’re here to serve the public, to serve the greater good. We’re health care providers in the community. And on any given day, one of us could be the patient.

Don’s background

Raised in San Dimas, California, Don is the son of an airline captain. “I grew up with aviation,” he says. “I’ve been involved since I was a teenager. Actually, there are several aviators in the family.

Over the years, Don has owned and operated several businesses, including a flight school. “I’ve amassed over 10,000 flight hours,” he shares. “Aviation is not just my vocation, it’s my avocation. So I feel like I won’t ever have to work for a living!”

One of Don’s avocational choices was motivated by romance. “I married a farmer’s daughter 21 years ago,” he shares, “and I decided to become a crop duster and raise my family.” He and wife Suzy have two sons: Donald, 20, and Hunter, 18.

Don has also been a long-time public servant, including as Chief Pilot for the Narcotics Task Force, as well as Commander of the Imperial County Sheriff’s Unit. “And in the next two years, I’ll be the mayor or Brawley,” he adds.

Don & REACH

Our Director of Biz Dev is going on six years with the company, and he wants to acknowledge something he especially appreciates about REACH. “I’ve earned a few Masters Degrees in the last five years,” he shares. “I could never have done that if I weren’t working for a company like this, a company that really supports individuals in furthering themselves and their education.”

Don on policies and politics

“Knowing the policy makers is crucial to REACH’s success,” Don states. “When it comes to politics, I like the local level because there’s still some pragmatism left. I think local politics is the last haven for what our founding fathers intended. As local politicians, we’re not on TV all the time. We’re everyday citizens who have a commitment to making things better.”

To Don, who is “the customer”?

“This is my honest-to-goodness answer: everybody. To me, everybody is the customer.”

How does he connect with the customer?

“I always bear in mind that I represent REACH to everyone I come into contact with, that I represent what may someday be a lifesaving resource for them.”

To illustrate…

“Every year, about 1.2 million people visit our Imperial County. They come from all over…and bad things happen. It’s one of the #1 regions for critical injuries, specifically the winter visitors who come to recreate. Well, there’s an annual event in Orange County called the Sand Sports Super Show that attracts about 20,000 dune and dirt sport people. As the local area business development representative for REACH, I thought we should start participating. I thought, ‘Let’s advertise our membership program at this event!’ What I wanted was for all of us to go so that we could really get the message out and have people see us. We need folks to know that we’re not just the red helicopter—we have faces. So we started participating, and it’s been a smashing success!”

Don shares that Imperial County has 35,000 REACH for Life lives covered. “We also developed an auxiliary base in the middle of the desert, where these accidents happen,” Don says, “with a concrete helipad. It’s taken our response from 20-30 minutes to 2-3 minutes. We’ve saved dozens of lives because of that. It makes a difference in people’s lives every time we go out there.” Don has immense gratitude regarding this base. “REACH could have said no to the auxiliary base, but they supported it. I’m proud to work for an organization that would do that. They truly practice the mission statement.”