“We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” . . . Will Rogers
Most of the vets who will be participating in an Honor Flight are in their late 80s and 90s and most have some medical issues. Although no medical condition will bar a vet from participating, we will follow the wishes of the vet’s physician or family. Medical support staff (doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, …) are needed in several areas:
Initial screening: all vets fly on a first come, first served basis, but seriously ill vets will be moved up the list and terminally ill vets go to the top of the list. We try to follow up with the vet whenever an application received suggests a significant medical problem.
Preliminary preflight screening: vets participate on a first served basis so it may be a year or more from the time the vet fills out an application until they “fly”. Approx 12 weeks before the flight date, we start contacting vets to ensure that they are still interested and available. We also review their medical history to ensure that we understand the current situation.
Preflight Meetings: we conduct a preflight meeting before every flight. The meeting is a combination of screening, information, training (for the guardians) and socialization. The preflight meeting is often the first time we have a face-to-face meeting with the vet. Our medical screening at the preflight meeting is designed to understand medical conditions. For guardians we also seek to understand if they are physically up to the challenge.
Actual Flight: each flight has a medical team led by a medically trained professional who has been involved in previous missions. The number of people on the medical team depends on the size of the mission and the general medical condition of the participants.
Medical Admin: all of the above takes some level or organization and planning. People with a medical background who are comfortable with some level of admin work can really help out.