Flight Chaplains Launch New National Association


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Flight Chaplains Launch New National Association

Eddy Metcalf

October 17, 2010 - Co-founders Joe Love and Amelie Buchanan have announced the launch of the Association of Professional Flight Chaplains (APFC) as a newly approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aids and supports flight crews and trauma patients across the country.

The new inter-faith association?s mission is to provide pastoral care and support to helicopter, ground and fixed-wing air medical transport crews who rescue trauma patients, as well as their patients and families.

Love served as a flight nurse, and Buchanan as a flight chaplain for a number of years. Love and Buchanan are both ordained pastors.


?The Association was created because of the clear, unmet need for flight chaplains in air medical transport programs,? Love said. ?APFC will encourage and provide services to air medical programs that place flight chaplains within their programs, and also will support hospital chaplain training programs through curriculum and flight chaplain training. At no time is there a greater need for pastoral care and comfort than in times of trauma.?

Love said flight crews deal with enormous stress on a daily basis, and on those rare but horrifying occasions when crashes occur, flight chaplain support becomes of key importance. Burnout, cynicism, and post-traumatic stress rates among crews who serve in the air medical transport industry are known concerns.

?Sometimes a flight chaplain will be there for a crew member who has lost a patient or is troubled by aspects of a flight. We also help crew members learn what to say when a patient?s death is imminent during transport. Teaching and helping crews learn how to deal with the difficult, and usually buried emotional side of trauma service, is what we do,? he said. ?Another key and important component of a flight chaplain?s job is to support patients during transport, and their frightened family members.?

Professional Flight Chaplains are trained through certified hospital chaplain programs, which require a master?s degree in divinity or theology, and provide hospital-based clinical pastoral education in hospital and trauma chaplaincy. APFC is developing curriculum for flight chaplain education through its Chaplain Advisory Committee, and is seeking funds to develop and make available the curriculum to flight programs, to hospital CPE programs and to seminaries across the country.


?We think this career will be of interest to many who are currently working as hospital chaplains in trauma centers, and may become a career path for paramedics, EMTS, and flight nurses.? In the U.S. there are 307 medical helicopter and fixed-wing services that carry out an estimated 400,000 flights per year transporting patients to medical centers. With over 1,176 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, it is estimated that 79% of the U.S. population is within a 10-minute flight of a medical transport service.


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