Patient Air Lift Services (PALS), a nonprofit volunteer pilot organization, recently completed its 2,000th flight.
Pilot Tony Braddock flew cancer patient, Olivia Chin, from Binghamton, N.Y., to the Million Air terminal at Westchester Airport, N.Y. Not only did he fly her to the airport, he acted as an “auto pilot” and drove her to Cornell Medical Center for her cancer treatment.
PALS mission coordinators arranged Olivia’s transportation, taking care of all of the details. Prior to finding out about PALS, Olivia would wake up at 4 a.m. for a seven-hour bus ride from her home to NYC for treatment.
Thanks to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, where Olivia stays, she found out about PALS and has never had to take the bus again. PALS has flown Olivia 11 times, including providing ground transportation into NYC – all at no cost to her.
“It’s a multiplier effect,” explains Executive Director Eileen Minogue. “Bill Weaver and his staff at Million Air Westchester help out pilots like Tony by waiving the ramp and landing fees, Tony donates his time, skill and aircraft out of the goodness of his heart, PALS takes care of the paperwork and flight arrangements and Olivia Chin gets the medical care she needs. Anyone can be a part of it.”
People who require life-saving medical treatment do not always live within driving distance of the specialized care they need, she continued.
“In most cases, families have struggled with holding down jobs to keep health insurance while paying mounting medical bills,” she said. “We can alleviate the stress of driving eight hours for treatment every week, or the helpless frustration when getting to the right doctor is an unmanageable expense.”
PALS, in just three short years since opening its doors in 2010, has arranged more than 3,000 flights and, as of June 13, has flown 2,000 of them. Each flight offers help for those who need it most, including patients who have been able to access life-saving medical care, wounded veterans getting support during rehabilitation, family members who have been able to travel to a loved one during a medical crisis, and finally, flights that have brought emergency supplies and necessities to disaster areas.