REACH Newsletter
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Clinical Operations

A View From the Crew

Clinical Operations
We are the people who patch the hole; we don’t fix the hole. We get people from where they are to where they need to be in the fastest, safest and most efficient way possible.

Chris Askew

Name, Title & Location

  • Chris Askew
  • FP-C (Certified Flight Paramedic), CCP-C (Certified Ground Critical Care Paramedic)
  • Upland Fire Department, operated by REACH Air Medical Services (H165/REACH 13)

As a child, Chris wanted to be…

  • Indiana Jones

How did Chris get here from there?

I like adventure, and I like travel. In 1994, after high school, I went through the whole ‘What should I do with my life?’ thing, and I decided to attend an EMT program in Los Angeles. I met several people who volunteered for the Fire Department. I started volunteering in 1994 and pursued being a fire fighter from 1994 to 2000. It didn’t happen. With their testing process, either you get hired very quickly or it takes about 12 years. After I obtained my paramedic license in 2001, I just wasn’t as motivated to become a firefighter as I had been before.

In 1998, I started as an EMT on an ambulance in LA County, and then I spent some time in the emergency room (2000 to 2002). In 2002, I got a job as an ambulance paramedic in Ventura. In 2004, I started volunteering with Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit, which is search and rescue. I’m actually still doing that.

In 2006, I met Patty Murphy, one of the nurses I work with now. She was helping with a fixed-wing program at the time—she wasn’t with REACH yet. It was at that moment I got the bug to start flying full-time. It was because of the higher level of critical care. I saw more medicine in this environment. I’ve been flying full-time ever since the better part of 2007.

Chris on the Upland Fire/REACH partnership

It’s a public/private co-op where the Fire Department supplies the flight nurses and paramedics and REACH supplies the helicopter, pilot, mechanic and medical direction, plus the training that goes along with medical direction. The base first opened in March, 2010 and has maintained that configuration ever since.

What does Chris like most about his job?

The reason I show up to work is because of the people I work with. It truly is like having a second family. We spend a majority of our lives with the people we work with, which is sometimes more than we see our spouses. The relationships that I’ve developed over the years because of this job are priceless.

Our base is primarily a night operation. Our down time is during the day. We all have to be in relationships with people who are very understanding. Before I married my wife, the first few months we were dating, we’d make these grandiose plans, and we’d be up all night long at work. You can’t do that forever. Our spouses and families see the toll it takes on us more and more, and they become very understanding. Being gone as much as we are, we have a greater appreciation for our relationships.

We go through experiences in this job that not many people go through. We learn about life a little differently, so all of our perceptions are a little more atypical than other people. We definitely don’t take things for granted.

It’s not only important to me to know how the patient is doing, but also how the patient’s family is doing. We focus on the patient, but the healing happens on multiple levels.

What’s the most challenging part of Chris’ job?

Well, in a fantasy world, we would shut down the system from about 1 a.m. to 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning. I miss my bed. But I’ve been running this kind of lifestyle (on-call) since 1994. I do however prefer the erraticness . You learn how to ‘relax while you’re waiting.’

Who does Chris live with?

  • Wife: Christina

I’ve been married for seven months, and neither of us has been married before. When you’re younger, you don’t have a lot, you’re not set in your ways. You grow together as one unit. When you’re older, you have to learn how to merge. The trick is to find out how to merge.

Chris shares a surprising personal factoid

I’m pretty boring, but I do love traveling. I’ve been to Indonesia, Galapagos, all over Europe, Kona, the Philippines and recently returned from my honeymoon in Greece. And I had my own underwater photography business for three years. I still shoot underwater occasionally. Also, I play goalkeeper on a men’s soccer team.

How does Chris feel about the company?

REACH is very supportive of their employees. There is a great clinical background, and the company is very customer-oriented.