In honor of National Emergency Medical Services Week (EMS), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) celebrates the dedicated men and women who work at Medic 30, the Philadelphia Fire Department’s (PFD) EMS unit at PHL. This group of professionals assist passengers who are in medical distress and manage on emergencies onboard aircraft and in the terminals.
Firefighters and medics who are assigned to Engine 78, Medic 30 are trained to respond to routine fire and rescue calls, as well as mass casualty events, large scale emergencies and airplane incidents. The men and women of Medic 30 have been the first line of response in situations that have been striking, to say the least.
Medic Tom Rusby (below) was working at PHL when a flight from New York to Dallas was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia because an engine blew out, shattering windows and causing a passenger to be partially pulled out of a window. Passengers and crew managed to pull her back into the plane and started CPR. Rusby was the first medical responder to board the plane when the flight landed at PHL.
Rusby recalls that when he boarded the plane, there were several other passengers who were also hurt during the incident, but his focus was to attend to the female passenger who suffered the worst injuries.
Rusby, a paramedic with 32 years experience , Tom transferred to Medic 30 after spending 27 years in neighborhood firehouses because he wanted to work in a specialty unit. When asked why he became a medic, he said that he followed in his firefighter father’s footsteps to work for the PFD because he loves helping people and wanted to be like his dad.
There is no way to anticipate the type of emergency crews will encounter when calls come in for medical help. Generally, Rusby and his partner Tanji Michaels respond to eight-to-ten medical runs a day, mostly for minor illnesses and injuries. Anxiety attacks, which often present as a physical ailment, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pains or nausea, are also a common call that they respond to several times a day.
“We are fortunate to have dedicated medics like Tom and Tanji on the team at Engine 78, Medic 30, said PHL Chief Operating Officer Keith Brune. “Their enthusiasm for their profession and their commitment to our passengers and staff is commendable.”