Sim Shain of ParaFlight: “Our core mission is to help people in their time of need”

I would love to see everyone more tolerant and accepting of others, even if we don’t share the same views, opinions, and political parties. If everyone ate the same food and had the same opinions about everything, life would be pretty boring. As a part of my series about Heroes Of The COVID Crisis, I had […]

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I would love to see everyone more tolerant and accepting of others, even if we don’t share the same views, opinions, and political parties. If everyone ate the same food and had the same opinions about everything, life would be pretty boring.

As a part of my series about Heroes Of The COVID Crisis, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sim Shain. Sim Shain, Founder, and CEO of ParaFlight EMS and Aviation and have led an impressive twenty-seven-year career working in the pre-hospital emergency medical space. He is a noteworthy leader who takes on challenging responsibilities leading corporate, medical, and charity flights and missions, specializing in organ transplants.

In 2012, Sim was named Paramedic of the Year by the State of New Jersey for his outstanding work and dedication towards helping the greater community. Sim is a devoted volunteer who contributes to numerous well-known organizations such as Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha, United Hatzalah of Israel, The Special Children’s Center, Birthright Israel, and Hatzalah EMS, providing in-flight medical support to children with cancer and disabilities, free of charge.

Sim launched his career working as a 911 medic and flight medic and continues to fly patients around the world and organs around the USA. He volunteers for local first aid squads and is a nationally certified paramedic, medical escort, and flight medic.

Sim lives his passion, spending his moments volunteering as a paramedic, and exploring new ways to help others. He recently received his PADI diving certification and as a proud member of the Lakewood Water Rescue Team continues to personify his lifelong mission of “changing the world, one organ at a time.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I grew up in Central NJ, where I currently reside. My dad became an EMT when I was eight years old and joined a local first aid squad. I always loved watching him leave our home or his business to go save a life and it was then that I decided that is what I am going to do when I grow up.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’m an avid reader of books on both health and business. My favorite book is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It teaches one how to avoid arguments, owns up to mistakes, listens to others, learns from others, gives praise and encouragement, and ensures you always look at the other’s point of view.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

I had a very close friend named Steve Zakheim, who unfortunately passed away from cancer in 2013, secondary to his exposure in NYC at 9/11 and the subsequent time he spent there. Steve was a philanthropist and extremely generous, especially with those who had physio disabilities. Steve had his own private jet that he outfitted as an air ambulance with a stretcher and oxygen and would send me and others on trips around the country and the world to take patients to specialty medical centers and rehab centers, at no cost. Steve’s motto was “ If it’s difficult, we do it. If it’s impossible, we try harder “. That’s what we try to live up to. We always look for a way to say yes!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

So COVID really came out of left field for us and pretty much shut down our entire operation. Our Organ transplant flight division went down to zero for a few reasons. The first was a shortage or anticipated shortage of ventilators and space in hospital ICUs. Every organ procurement needs up to 6 ventilators- the donor, lung, heart, liver, kidneys, etc.

Then there wasn’t a rapid way to test donors and recipients for COVID. The third issue we had was the fear of putting pilots and surgeons on a jet together in case one of them was affected or if someone in the donor hospital had COVID, now they get to share it with everyone.

We went back to the drawing board. We kicked up our corporate division and started repatriating elderly and immunocompromised people who have stuck alone in Florida, Texas, California, etc., and wouldn’t fly on commercial flights.

We also started flying medical equipment, ventilators, and plasma to numerous hospitals.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

Let me start by saying this- I am not a hero! I have the privilege to spend my days and nights with heroes, though. I get to interact with my fellow health care workers, police officers, firefighters, and first responders who put their lives at risk every day while doing life-changing work. My heroes are the pilots and doctors who spend their nights and weekends flying all over the country to help save lives.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

I believe that all humans are good people who really strive to make a difference in their lives and those around them. They merely have to look for those opportunities. I believe at the end of our days when we “ fold our cards and cash our chips in”, we can hopefully look back at the good deeds we have done to try to make a positive imprint on the world. My grandfather would always tell me, you can’t take anything with you at the end of your days, aside from the good deeds you have done for others. You can’t even take along your favorite pair of socks!

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

Our core mission is to help people in their time of need. We don’t consider it heroic, it’s our calling.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

My heroes are the EMT’s and paramedics who work on the ambulances as well as the nurses and doctors who work in the hospitals. The other heroes I tend to spend a lot of time with are those who have health challenges and physical disabilities that make the best of every day that they have and show others that they aren’t defined by their disabilities, but are rather defined by their abilities.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

What’s frightening is that although we are over 7 months into the pandemic, we still don’t have a vaccine and we have no clear directions.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain why?

Thankfully there have been tremendous strides in the treatment of COVID patients so those who get treatment early on tend to do very well. I am hopeful that a vaccine will be available in the near future.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

We have seen greatness as well as disappointment. Greatness to those who have stepped up to the plate to help others, doctors, nurses, first responders, and essential personnel in every industry working overtime in N95 masks, and heavy PPE at great risk, knowing that exposure to them can affect their lives as well as the lives of their families. What’s been disappointing is those who have been callous in protecting themselves and inadvertently spreading the virus to others by not wearing masks and socially distancing when warranted.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

I don’t believe it has caused me to reassess as much as it opened my eyes and has shown me that there are people who will step up to the plate and go above and beyond what they would have ever thought was possible to help others.

I’m referring to parents who had to miss work because their children had to be schooled via Zoom as well as the teachers who had to learn how to control 20 virtual classrooms from their own living rooms. I’m referring to parents with special needs children who didn’t have the ability to take their children to specialized daycare centers and now had to take care of them for months at a time. I’m referring to police officers and firefighters who leave their homes before their shift, not knowing if they will return home. I’m referring to business owners who had to “dig deep” so they could survive and cover basic expenses. I’m referring to the families who had to make heart-wrenching decisions of sending their loved ones to the hospitals, knowing there was a good chance they would never see them again. And I’m referring to the heroic doctors and nurses who sat in the ICU’s and held the hands of patients who were dying so they wouldn’t die alone.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I would love to see everyone more tolerant and accepting of others, even if we don’t share the same views, opinions, and political parties. If everyone ate the same food and had the same opinions about everything, life would be pretty boring.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Our lives are full of opportunities to help others. We need to find them. We have to find our strengths and our skills and share them with others. If we are blessed with financial success, share that with others. If we are blessed with a musical ability to play an instrument or sing, utilize it for someone who isn’t well. If you can find extra time, volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen or become a coach for a Little League team. Become an EMT or firefighter and go volunteer at a local EMS squad or firehouse if your community has one. The list is endless. It’s up to us to find our strength and share it with the world. There’s no better feeling than being able to help others and make a significant impact in someone else’s life. It will change your life…it changed mine!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Try to find a project or join a movement that can really make a difference. It can be anything, whatever speaks to your heart and soul. Leave a positive imprint on our world and make it a better place.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Warren Buffet! He’s a visionary and a humanitarian and his company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns NetJets We are looking to change the world of organ transplant and it requires someone who understands and is involved in health care and aviation and wants to change the world with us.

How can our readers follow you online? 
We are on almost every social media platform. LinkedIn as Sim Shain for me personally and ParaFlight EMS and Aviation, Facebook, Instagram — and Twitter

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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