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Since its first flight in 1984, Vanderbilt LifeFlight has logged more than 33,000 patient transports. Five thousand of those belong to just two men – Billy Hamblin and Tom Grubbs.
Hamblin, a pilot, flew on LifeFlight’s first mission, and Grubbs, and flight nurse, joined the program six months later.
“I have a standard,” said John Morris, M.D., director of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care. “It is the ‘Who can take care of me when I’m sick?’ standard. I want Billy Hamblin in the front driving, and I want Tom Grubbs in the back taking care of me.”
For their service to the program, Hamblin and Grubbs received the 2009 Ross Award, which highlights individuals who have made remarkable contributions to LifeFlight and the community. This is the first time anyone within LifeFlight has received the award, which honors Joseph Ross, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, emeritus, who helped establish Vanderbilt LifeFlight.
“Tom and Billy have the right stuff. They are at once our history and our future, and they are the embodiment of our culture,” Morris said. “Billy Hamblin has flown over 5,000 LifeFlight missions, the most of any EMS pilot in the United States, and a record not likely to be broken. In an industry where most senior flight nurses strive to reach 1,000 patient flights, Tom has 5,000 – more flights than any flight nurse in history.”
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