Episode 26 of the Air Medical Today Podcast for December 18, 2010 has been published. In this episode I interview Dr. Mike Abernethy, the Chief Flight Physician with University of Wisconsin Med Flight Program and an associate professor with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Dr. Abernethy is one of the few physicians in the country who works on a regular basis as a flight physician. His passion is taking care of critically ill patients in diverse and even sometimes hostile environments. This interest in EMS started in his early teen years with the TV program “Emergency” and is still strong over 40 years later.
While pursuing a college education at The Ohio State University he became an EMT and also joined the national guard with a helicopter aviation unit. After several career changes, he ended up in medical school at the University of Cincinnati. Mike completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago where he was the first chief aeromedical resident for the University of Chicago Aeromedical Network.
He has worked as a flight physician with the University of Wisconsin Med Flight program since 1992 and has been the chief flight physician for the last two years. Dr. Abernathy is on faculty of the University of Wisconsin Emergency Medicine Residency Program where he says he is helping to train the next generation of emergency physicians. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Air Medical Physicians Association
Mike has worked in almost every aspect of the Helicopter EMS industry. He has been a referring community physician, receiving trauma center physician, ground EMT, and the medical director for several ground ambulance and helicopter EMS programs. With over 21 years and several thousand patient transports, he is one of the most experienced flight physicians in the United States. This gives Dr. Abernathy a very unique prospective on prehospital care which includes to this day 7-10 helicopter shifts a month.
Dr. Abernethy’s opinions are from his viewpoint as both an experienced Emergency Medicine physician and prehospital care provider. He knows very well that the real life medicine “in the ditch” can be very different than anything found in protocols and/or textbooks. He is a well known speaker at many regional and national Emergency Medicine and EMS conferences. His publications and lectures on Helicopter EMS standards and utilization are a frequent source of controversy within the EMS community.
Mike is quoted as saying “There are countless great things about the HEMS industry, but it is also fraught with significant problems. Someone has to stand up and point out that the emperor has no clothes. I have no problem doing that. The bottom line is I care deeply about HEMS and its reputation. I also want the most appropriate, safe and quality care for all prehospital patients.”