Rescue flights: Teamwork gets the job done
Dynamite comes in small packages. Just ask Ayesha Allies, an external load operator (ELO) and paramedic with South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service Trust. Allies has been hoisting patients onto a rescue helicopter for the past three years. “To young women, we live in a new era where as a woman you are afforded equal opportunity, don’t limit your capability. The emergency medical field is the only field I know, it is humbling and teaches you something new on every call. Playing such a pivotal role in an elite rescue team broadened my view on the ability to access and help those in difficultly. There is a certain adrenaline rush to being an ELO that cannot be described, it can only be experienced,” said Allies. Growing up, she always wanted to work on an ambulance and working for an aeromedical organisation was a bonus for her. “I like seeing others grow and reach their potential, for them to focus on where they headed and not where they were,” said Allies. One of her most interesting rescues was a recent one where there were fishermen stuck on a rock at sea, surrounded by high swells where sea rescue personnel were unable to reach. The helicopter rescue medic was hoisted to the fishermen, where he prepared them for extraction by cargo sling that could lift them off the rock at once.
“One of my worst calls was a group of people who were stabbed in the Kalk Bay mountains, thankfully without fatalities. Second to that would be body recoveries,” said Allies. She balances work and family life by enjoying time with her family and making time for herself and close friends.
To become an ELO, Allies said one should be assertive, determined, professional, passionate, respectful, show leadership qualities, be compassionate, critical thinker and have the ability to manage a team.
AMS pilot Hans Laas said rescues were possible through teamwork and dedication. One of the rescues he recalled was when five boy scouts went missing and were eventually rescued. “Just seeing their worried families embrace them and the looks on their faces were honestly worth more than a pay cheque,” said Laas.
He knew he wanted to become a pilot almost from a young age. When he was a just five, he flew in a helicopter at the Air Force with his dad. At the age of 36, he started flying and hasn’t stopped. “Becoming a pilot is not easy, it requires a lot of dedication, sacrifice and you must study hard for maths, science and geography. You would also need some technical knowledge or interest,” said Laas.
In his spare time, he enjoys a good cup of coffee, exploring the outdoors and braaing with family.
“In this job, you realise not to sweat the small stuff because three are more serious things to worry about. Keep yourself fit and mentally healthy and remember not to take life for granted,” said Laas.
Source: Weekend Argus