CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME

MAY 13, 2010

 

 

The Life Flight Network crew (l to r) are Eric Kincaid (Paramedic), George Lacy (Pilot), and Dominic Pomponio (Flight Nurse and Manager).

OHS grad heads for the sky

By Alannah Allbrett

Dominic Pomponio, proudly holding his first child, born February 5, 2010 to he and his wife Angela. The baby boy’s name is Dominic Martinell Pomponio.   Like many in this valley, Dominic (Dom) Pomponio came from a logging family. His grandfather’s family came out from Michigan to log, and his father was in that industry as well. Dominic, along with one brother and one sister, were raised in Orofino where he graduated from OHS.

   Dom played for eight or nine years in an 8 piece band known as JBR Express. The group performed regularly in McCall and other locations in the northwest. Dom is an accomplished jazz pianist and said the group may soon be getting back together again.

   Dom met his wife Angie when they both attended nursing school at Walla Walla Community College, which has an extension campus in Clarkston, WA. They were both trained in emergency and critical care. Dom said, up until Life Flight (where he currently works) they had been fortunate enough to work for the same hospitals and the same shifts.

   Up until recently, Dom commuted to the Portland area once a week for his job as a flight nurse with the Life Flight Network (LFN) based in Aurora, Oregon. Life Flight is an organization which has been in operation for 32 years. Dom became the manager when the company decided to open the Lewiston office, making Lewiston the 10th LFN base. Now his commute is a bit shorter.

   The Lewiston office has five nurses, eight paramedics, four pilots and one mechanic. Dom overseas the day-to-day operations, handles scheduling, and participates as a flight crew member. He said they typically have two primary functions: inter-hospital transport of patients with time-sensitive medical issues and emergency scene response. When asked what is the farthest distance they’ve traveled in their work, Dom said they had been to San Diego a couple of times. Typically, they serve the northwest, but the company does have a fixed-wing (airplane) service, in three locations, from which they offer long distance services.

   Most of us have rather routine jobs and don’t face life and death situations on a daily basis. When I asked Dom what it was like to rescue people, he didn’t quite know how to respond. Obviously, some of the duties they perform, in following protocol, become routine like anyone else’s job. “We see people at their worst,” he said, “and are able to help save their lives.” Naturally, he finds that very fulfilling.

   When asked what the best part of his job is, Dom said he enjoys the flying. ”It’s always exciting to be in a helicopter,” and that has become his comfort zone. They typically fly to a scene with one pilot, one nurse, and one paramedic onboard. As a team, they are able to give very fast, on-the-scene help, providing excellent critical care and trauma service.

   When asked Dom to differentiate between what duties the flight nurse performs compared to those of a paramedic, he said “A nurse mainly gets to shine in helping transport a sick patient in an inter-hospital transfer scenario, and the paramedic’s skills are highlighted in emergency scene response. We work in tandem, however,” he said, so they are cross-covering and complementing each other’s skills.

   The Pomponios spent a year together in Boise and found they were up here every weekend they got the chance. “It’s home,” Dom said, “so we finally decided that we had to move up here to live.” They enjoy the many recreational opportunities of hiking and fishing and enjoy walking their dogs. He said they have three dogs, small, medium, and large which he said are mutts, “pound puppies.” His wife bonded with one, he the other, and the third just showed up at their door in Yakima looking pitiful, so they took her in.

   Dom and Angie are celebrating the birth of their first baby, a boy also named Dominic, born in February. They had thought it would be a little girl and had a girl’s name picked out. Dom said they are old fashioned and didn’t want to know for sure until the baby was born. It must be working out with the little boy baby, because he could not recall the girl’s name they had chosen.

   I asked him if nursing and flight care was the kind of career he would want if his son were interested in it. He didn’t hesitate to say, “Absolutely! You can’t go wrong in the medical field.” Dom said his personal goal is “to raise our son in this beautiful neck-of-the-woods.”  Professionally, he wants Life Flight to continue to be the best it can possibly be in assisting people in need.\

Pictured, is the cockpit of the Eurocopter A-Star B3 model helicopter which recently came to Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinic in Orofino. This model chopper is the only one that has landed twice on Mt. Everest in test flights. It is a very powerful, high altitude, hot temperature capable aircraft used by Life Flight Network. It is capable of holding a crew of three, one patient, and a potential rider. It carries a lot of weight and is able to fly for about two hours without refueling or for approximately 150 nautical miles.

 

Nestled between the jump seats of the Eurocopter A-Star B3 helicopter are the cardiac monitor, the ventilator, and oxygen and suction equipment. The helicopter is equipped with all of the items one would find in the emergency ward of a hospital. A trip from Orofino to Lewiston takes about 15 minutes. From Orofino to Spokane the trip takes 40 minutes.