Today I went for coffee with a person I used to work with when I flew medevacs on the MU-2. We talked about the cool people we had met through the job, and about the various stresses associated with medevac flying. And I heard a story I hadn't known about until today.
For me, the biggest single stress of medevac flying was living on the pager and having to drop everything and be at the airport within 20 minutes of being paged, ready to fly a 15-hour day. I frequently said the pager was killing me.
I was exaggerating, and I was lucky.
One of the people who worked at the company at the same time as me was a flight paramedic. We had never worked together, but I knew her by name. About a year after I left the company, she was sitting at home, waiting for the pager to go off.
It went off, and startled her. She had a heart attack and died right there. As her partner was performing CPR on her, the company dispatch called their home phone, demanding to know why she hadn't answered her page. "Poor timing" doesn't begin to cover it. She was in her mid-twenties, and deserved better than that end. The company spent 10k on her funeral, flying her parents in via chartered aircraft and buying thousands of dollars worth of flowers.
There were other contributing factors to her death; she was a bit overweight, was a smoker and had been taking diet pills containing ephedrine, a stimulant now banned in Canada. But my gut tells me the pager pulled the trigger.