For the most part, discussions about Air Ambulance services have usually been centred around the number of lives that have been saved owing to some of its unique attributes (speed and access to locations that would otherwise have been inaccessible by road) in enhancing the delivery of emergency service globally.

Little, however, has been said, and heard about the visionaries behind most of the Air ambulance companies that are operational today. It is the resolve of these set of individuals and passion for rescue/medical care delivery that has led to the creation of most of the Air Ambulance services we all celebrate today.

To help close this gap, we have decided to bring you the faces behind some of the world’s leading Air Ambulance services.

  1. Founder of Royal Flying Doctors in the year (1928), Reverend John Flynn:

After being appointed as the first superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission in 1912, Rev. John began the pursuit of actualizing his vision of a “Mantle of Safety” for the people of Outback Australia beginning with establishing a number of bush hospitals and making medical care available to the residents of the Australian Back. His passion and zeal to exploit the use of technology (radio and aircraft) to deliver an astute and enhanced medical care constitute the basis upon which the flying medical service was established.

More particularly, forming the core of its creation was the desire to spread a “Mantle of Safety” across Australia’s 7.65million square kilometres of outback in 1928. Today, the dream has been made reality and lives on as Royal Flying Doctors remains the largest and most comprehensive emergency healthcare service globally.

  • Founder of Swiss Air Rescue in the year (1931), Doctor Rudolf Bucher:

Born on the 22nd of February, 1899 in Lucerne. He is one of the Co-founders of Swiss Air Ambulance, a private non-profit air ambulance service that provides medical assistance in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

As a graduate from the University of Zurich where he studied medicine, he began his early career days as a senior physician in the scientific department of the surgical University Clinic, Basel.

Following his time at the University, he also ventured into the field of research in whole blood and blood plasma transfusion, effects of which got him an appointment as head of the blood donation service of the Swiss Army in 1941. His passion however for medical rescue services fueled his commitment in Co-funding the Swiss Air Rescue (Rega).

  • Founder of Schaefer Ambulance in the year 1932, J. Walter Schaefer:

Referred to as the pioneer of modern air ambulance service, Walter was one of the founding fathers of the Southern California Ambulance Association in 1948 and the American Ambulance Association in 1979.

He is also ascribed to be the founder of the first Air Ambulance service in the US which was the first FAA-certified air ambulance service. His Air Ambulance company, Schaefer Ambulance was founded in Los Angeles in 1932 and till date still exists as a family-owned company. The company currently has a staff strength of about 400 field personnel and maintains its own fleet of medical intensive care unit (MICU) equipped Cessna aircraft.

  • Founders of AMREF Flying Doctors in the year 1975, Sir Michael Wood and Sir Archibald Mclndoe:

Attracted to one another by a singular mission of bringing medical care to Africans in remote areas in East Africa, Sir Michael and Sir Archibald came together in 1957 to put their surgical and reconstructive skills to the greater use of helping save lives of people who suffered from burns mostly incurred in domestic accidents within the region.

This selfless decision by these men was what lead to the creation of AMREF Flying Doctors in 1957 as they discovered that 75% of all the children they consulted for in the region most often were victims of burn cases.

Their resolve to make the same level of care available to other people who suffered similar cases of domestic burns especially to those in the remote areas was what fueled the birth of the Air ambulance service.

Today, AMREF Flying Doctors has grown and expanded its scope to improve healthcare of populations in many African countries.

  • Founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, Doctor Ola Brown: 

Dr Ola Brown is a medical doctor, a trainee helicopter pilot and an entrepreneur who founded West Africa’s first indigenous air ambulance service, the Flying Doctors Nigeria which saves hundreds of lives across the West & Central African region every year especially in the oil and gas industry, rendering medical evacuation services.

She is extremely passionate about healthcare in Africa and works with various businesses, charities and governments to improve standards of healthcare.