Working in one of the country's most dangerous occupations, farm families know that accidents are always a possibility.
Fortunately for them, medical helicopters and their highly trained staff can make the difference between life and death in the event of a farm accident. Father-son flight nurses Tim and Adam Lenth are well aware that every second counts in these rural emergencies.
The duo knows that they make a unique pair. The ThedaStar air medical flight nurses are the only father-son duo in the state, and possibly nation, to work together on an air medical helicopter.
Tim Lenth is among the longest-serving flight nurses for ThedaStar, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in June. He joined the crew in 1992 after working as an emergency department nurse and EMT. Adam Lenth joined ThedaStar last August and also worked previously as an emergency department nurse.
'When people find out we're father and son, they are amazed since there are a limited number of flight nurses in Wisconsin and to have two people from the same family doing it is pretty cool and unique,' Tim Lenth said. 'There are some husband-wife teams of flight nurses out there, but many of them met on the job.'
Both men became interested in working on ThedaStar so they could provide additional care to patients. The air medical helicopter can carry up to two patients at a time from either a trauma scene or transfer patients from one hospital to another. During the flight, the medical crew checks the patient's vitals and provides any necessary medical care.
'You have a lot of autonomy as a flight nurse,' Adam Lenth said. 'There are a lot of protocols to follow, but you're the one making the decisions and making a real difference in the care of the patient.'
His dad agrees. 'As a flight nurse, I can play a large role in helping someone get the lifesaving care they need,' Tim Lenth said. 'In the air, we really focus on treating the patient, not the monitor. You rely a lot on what you're observing and how the patient responds.'
Flight nurses are required to have an advanced trauma and life support training certificate as well as the standard nursing licenses and certifications. To get familiar with the aircraft, Lenth said he met with a ThedaStar pilot on his first day to learn all of the safety rules and regulations. He also shadowed fellow flight nurses to learn more about caring for patients in the air.
When in the air, ThedaStar's crew includes a pilot and two medical staff members. Since there's only nine members of the medical staff, the Lenths find themselves working together frequently – something they don't mind at all.
'We really work well together,' Adam Lenth said. 'We've done remodeling projects together and even built a home together.'
He's honored to follow in his father's footsteps and work on ThedaStar. 'It was always a goal for me to be a flight nurse,' Adam Lenth said, adding that besides working in the emergency department he also previously worked as a dispatcher for ThedaStar too so he was familiar with the crew members before joining the team.
Tim Lenth said that even though there's limited space on ThedaStar, it has state-of-the-art equipment so patients receive the best possible care.
'ThedaStar has helped so many people by getting them more quickly to life-saving care,' he said. 'It's great to be a part of that and it's an honor to be doing it with my son.'
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin.
The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region.
ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in 14 counties.
ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient's care