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National Recognition for UCRA Based Flight Paramedic

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
National Recognition for UCRA Based Flight Paramedic

A Life Force 2 flight paramedic has received national recognition for his work in air medical and aviation safety.

Flight paramedic Robert Berger said he was surprised to receive the Jim Charlson Safety Award. An award he said many of his mentors received. Berger said it is an honor to be considered alongside the people who helped evaluate the psychology and human factors that affect air medical safety.

“The people that win these awards you know, the air medical industry has not had the greatest safety standards and safety record over the many years, and slowly but surely we’ve kind of shored up some of the things that were lacking in aviation safety,” Berger said. “Specifically human factors and how people think about safety and you know, psychology plays a big part in that as well”.

“For those people to really delve deep into those subjects was important for our industry,” Berger said. “Now we’ve started to see the results of those many years of work from those predecessors.”

Berger said he knew as a child that he wanted to be a flight paramedic. Berger said he began studying reports of crashes and following the deployment of an iconic helicopter.

“I followed some of the implementation as a high school student of the Army fielding the Blackhawk helicopter,” Berger said. “Which we now know is a stalwart of the aviation portion of the Army and they had some of these same issues and you know, I followed that from an early age. We’ve always kind of been excited about helicopter transport and helicopters themselves, that kind of prompted me to become a paramedic and then eventually a flight paramedic.”

He said it does not happen often, but hearing back from someone he saved makes an impact on the Life Force 2 team.

“It’s always nice, that’s kind of the highlights of our career, to hear people that have survived injuries and illnesses that we initially thought they may not,” Berger said. “It happens occasionally and we always enjoy that for sure.”

Berger said when a life saving flight happens, its a team effort, downplaying his own role.

“We all kind of work as a team, the EMS and fire and the hospitals themselves, we do both flying to scenes and inter-facility transports,” Berger said. “Everybody plays a part for sure, my job as Safety Chair is kind of to facilitate peoples needs and concerns and safety issues that pop up. I just play a small part but basically, it is the people that do it every day, like I said they’ve bought in to the fact that safety is number one and without them, there’s no way we could do it.”

Robert Berger is the first non-pilot to ever hold the position of Life Force Safety Committee Chair. Upper Cumberland Regional Airport serves as a base for Life Force 2 operations.


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