Flight volunteers begin Charleston chapter
A 10-year-old girl living in Louisiana suffers from a rare form of cancer. At MUSC, she can get the treatment she desperately needs. Because her family can’t afford to fly to Charleston, they must make the trip by car—driving all day and through the night.
It’s families like these that Angel Flight Southeast aims to help. A volunteer organization headquartered in Florida, Angel Flight provides free air transportation for those with medical or other compelling needs when commercial service is not available, impractical or simply not affordable.
Now that a “wing” of Angel Flight has landed in Charleston, local patients will have easier access to the services it provides. Stephanie Nolan, a nurse in MUSC’s Department of Trauma, is an integral part of the effort to bring Angel Flight to the Lowcountry.
“An Angel Flight mission might transport a patient to a facility in another state for a lifesaving transplant. Many missions have brought patients to MUSC for the unique and specialized care offered here,” she said.
Angel Flight depends on private pilots who donate both their time and the cost of operating the aircraft to complete missions. On the ground, Earth Angels schedule flights and help to coordinate transportation to and from the airport. Between 1994 and 1996, more than 1,000 Angel Flight missions were completed.
“In almost every county, you can find an airport,” Nolan said. “For people in rural areas, county airports are much more accessible than municipal airports in larger cities.”
For Nolan, Angel Flight combines her medical background with a love of flying and desire to help others. She hopes to complete her pilot licensing requirements by the end of September. Nolan’s husband Ron, an intermediate emergency medical technician, is already a licensed pilot. He and retired paramedic John Hitchings, MUSC chaplain Jill Kundtz, and community member Nancy Hild have teamed up to bring Angel Flight to Charleston.
The Nolans learned about Angel Flight one afternoon at the Summerville airport. While Stephanie waited for a flying lesson, she and Ron struck up a conversation with a couple from Florida on an Angel Flight mission. “They were waiting to pick up a patient who had cancer treatment in North Carolina to fly him back home to Florida,” Stephanie Nolan said.
Several pilots in the Lowcountry area already volunteer for Angel Flight, according to Nolan. “Having a local chapter will increase Angel Flight’s presence in our community, allowing us to help even more patients,” she said.
The Charleston chapter of Angel Flight still needs donated office space for their headquarters. To become a volunteer, or for more information call Stephanie or Ron Nolan at 875-3243. They can be reached via e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Or to contact Angel Flight Southeast, call 1-800-FLA-HALO.
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