Sean Russell, President

REACH Air Medical Services

Do you have anything specific you’d like to say regarding this year’s Employee Appreciation Party?

The celebration we had this year is the first time we have done an event like this. Historically, we handled employee recognition in conjunction with our Christmas party. But we outgrew the ability to have a single-point party because of geography. We decided on this new forum that celebrates the employee at a singular, focused event.

We presented several awards this year. The top awards were given to employees who exemplified one of five important categories: Quality, Service, Efficiency, Safety, and Patient Advocacy. Above & Beyond awards were given to employees nominated by their fellow teammates. We gave Flight Awards to crew members who have participated in a minimum of 500 flights—those are completed flights—each representing a patient transported to needed care. We have some employees who have accomplished more than 2,500—and in a few rare cases 3,000—patient flights. That’s incredible! There were also awards related to length of service. We have employees who have been with this company for 15, 20, and 25 years—there’s some longevity here. It’s a pretty amazing group of people. And we have a new award,

REACH award winners tend to say things like: “I didn’t expect it.” “I’m honored, but I don’t feel like I really did anything.” “My team deserves it more than I do.” Comments?

When you look at the mission that we have and the scope of that mission, when you look at what this company has become, you can see how no one person—myself included—could possibly feel indispensable. You have to consider the collective team. The work that gets done here couldn’t be accomplished without the entire team. The group of people that are on the team, both here at the administration offices and out at the bases, is comprised of so many intelligent, capable, qualified people. You can’t help but feel honored.

Have you won awards at REACH, and if so, how did that feel?

Many of the current awards came to be since I have been in leadership. I did receive the 1000 flight award when I was a crew member, so I know what an honor it is. I know the significance of being a part of the tradition and of being in a special group of people. However, in observing the nominees and the selection process, it is a very impressive group that I could only aspire to be part of.

In the last newsletter, you talked about focusing on the patient and the customer and said regarding 2014, “We’re bringing it full circle by focusing on the staff, the employee. It all comes together if we focus on that.” How do you feel the year is going in that regard?

I like the direction it’s going and the conversations that are happening, but it is far from complete. I don’t think I had any expectations that it would be quick, and I do think it’s progressing well. This is a transformational process that takes a lot of time. It’s going to be a journey.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention related to employee recognition, staff contributions, etc.?

With every REACH Academy, I have the opportunity in one way or another to interact with every new associate. One of the forums is an Executive Welcome. I sit with the other leaders of the company, and we have an open discussion with the new individuals, who may still be trying to decide if REACH is right for them.

This forum includes a Q&A session. One of the most interesting questions was posed during an Executive Welcome a couple weeks ago. One of our crew members asked each person in our leadership group to speak to, “What is the proudest moment you’ve had at REACH?” I had a little time to think before it was my turn. When it came around to me, interestingly enough my response was something that had happened just a few weeks prior. I had been at a leadership meeting that included choosing a winner to receive the new “We Care” award, which identifies a single employee within the company who exemplifies “We Care”. Every leader was asked to come prepared to nominate someone and to tell us why they were nominating that person. We went around the room, and the stories that were told were incredible! You couldn’t help but realize that every day, every department is having an impact on those we serve–internally and externally. We are blessed to have an amazing team of associates.

That was my proudest moment. To hear the advocacy of each of these managers and directors…it got quite emotional. It even got to a point where I sat back and said, regarding choosing a winner, “Well, we’ve all listened. Does anyone have an opinion short of taking a vote?” And everybody basically responded with, “I don’t how we do this!”