Miles and I talked for an hour a couple of nights ago. These conversations that occur between those of us who serve on NEMSPA's board are rewarding and enjoyable. I have them with Rex Alexander, and Kurt Williams, and Miles Dunagan.
If you saw the video on Enroute Decision Point, you have seen Miles. If you haven't seen it, here it is...
We talked about serving as NEMSPA's president. We decided that he would be a better, more logical choice than me. He is still an active HEMS pilot. And he looks good on camera. I'm just an old has-been blogger.
Of course, NEMSPA's board has to vote, but I don't see anyone fighting Miles for the task of working daily on behalf of people who largely have little idea or concern that such work is occurring. For free.
During our chat, we had a "rest of the story" moment. I think we started out by talking about inviting Natalin Hammond to AMTC. Natalin's husband Chad was the pilot of the aircraft that crashed in Alabama recently. She contacted me and we have become friends. I think having her at the NEMSPA booth and in my presentation on nextgen AMRM for HEMS will be good for her, and good for HEMS. I think many of us believe that crashes only happen to someone else, and they are abstract events. When you speak with Natalin, it becomes real.
Sometime during our talk about Chad, we started talking about another crash. One that I am too familiar with. Miles is connected as well. I asked him to write about it.
Here is what Miles wrote...
I remember the day as yesterday. It was February 16th, 2001. I had accepted a position flying for Dale Earnhardt and it was moving day. We were leaving a good job along with friends and family to embark on what was sure to be a real adventure. Everything we owned was packed in a U-Haul van. My wife at the time and our two kids, Jessica 6 and Tully 4 months, were in the minivan and we were ready to head east. We said our goodbyes, wiped away tears, and that’s when it happened. Bob stepped forward, took the keys to the moving van from my hand and pointed to the minivan. Bob said “get in there with your family, I’m driving the moving van. You’re going to make this trip right beside your family.” I looked at him and said, "Bob, Memphis to Mooresville NC is a 12-hour drive." He just grinned and said, "well, I’ll see ya there."
What can I say, but that was Bob Giard.
That was not the first time Bob would come to my rescue, and it wouldn’t be the last. Two days later, Dale Earnhardt was gone. For 4 days, Bob didn’t leave my side.
I knew him for several years. The scenario played out countless times. Let’s say you’re having a crummy day. Your ticked off, feeling sorry for yourself, The whole 9 yards. Then you look up to see that big red Dodge truck pull up and your head drops. I would think to myself “crap its Bob." I would do this because I knew that without fail, in short order, I would be forgetting about what ever petty problem I was dragging with me and I would be laughing until my side hurt. You can’t help but love a guy like that. Those kind of friendships are rare.
I remember another time, very vividly, some 3 years later. It was the evening of July 12th, 2004. I had left flying in the Carolinas to return to my old job in Memphis. I locked the door to my office at Dewitt Spain Airport after my evening jog and was walking to my motorcycle for the ride home. That’s when I heard my land-line start ringing. The dilemma, put everything down unlock the door, and maybe answer before whoever is on the other end hangs up. Well, I answered. It was Bob! He had just reported for duty at Regional One in Spartanburg SC. It was a night shift. We discussed that Shelby, the kids and I would be coming to see him two days from then to check out his new Harley, on our way to Emeril Isle NC for vacation. After about 15 minutes, Bob assured me that he would be putting on his P.J’s. The weather forecast was for crummy weather, so it would be a good night to sleep. We said our goodbyes, and that was it.
The next morning, I’m riding into work and for some odd reason, I have half a dozen missed calls. I pull my bike to the side of Hwy 51, and Joe Obremski, a mutual friend and EMS pilot, tells me the news. Regional One is down. No survivors. There all gone.
Unfortunately, I lost touch with Bob’s family. People go on with their lives. I did as well. I have not visited South Carolina since Bob’s funeral.
Now, fast forward to two weeks ago. I receive a text that someone from South Carolina was looking for me. My ex-wife shared that someone wanted to talk about Bob. They had some questions. So, I made contact with them, Cecil and Roger Wilkie. These brothers wondered if Bob was a military veteran, which he is not, and also wondered when his birthday was. You see Roger came across Bobs Grave marker and discovered that 12 years later, it still had the temporary grave marker. The temporary marker did not even include Bobs birthday. Roger would like to get Bob the marker he feels he deserves, and I feel I have a duty to help. After discussing this, we are going to try to have it completed by AMTC which is in Charlotte the last week of September. I will make the hour drive to visit my friends final resting place and hopefully see his grave marker.
10 year EMS pilot,
NEMSPA Board of Directors.
Miles, when you drive down to Bob's grave, I am going with you. He deserves that. He deserves a decent memorial. He tried, and failed, and paid with his life. He could have been me.
If you read the report about Bob's crash, it resembles many others. It involves a good guy who is trying to do the right thing by helping someone, and things went terribly wrong. We involved with NEMSPA believe we can stop these events, but it will take training, and commitment. And it will take all of us working together.
Bob Giard's memorial is going to cost around $1500. If you are interested in helping us pay for it, you can make a donation marked "Bob's memorial" through NEMSPA. Bill Winn will make sure the money comes to us. We will post the list of donors, unless you ask us not to include your name.