Sim Shain, founder and CEO of Lakewood-based ParaFlight EMS, began his EMS career 28 years ago in Howell Township, and he has been helping save lives ever since. A nationally registered paramedic and member of the Lakewood Township Water Rescue Team, Shain earned the Paramedic of the Year Award from the State of New Jersey in 2012. He was also a 9-11 first responder.
It was that experience that ultimately inspired him to start his own company.
“After 9-11, I became close with a very special man named Steve Zakheim,” Shain says. “Steve was a philanthropist who owned a private jet, which he had outfitted with a stretcher and oxygen, and – once I became a paramedic – he would send me and others around the country and around the world on charity flights helping patients get to hospitals, doctor consultations, rehab centers, and more.”
Zakheim, who had built the largest ambulance company in New York state, lost 14 personnel members at ground zero, and was stricken with cancer due to harmful chemical exposure at the site. In 2012, he passed away from severe lung damage caused by chemotherapy.
“Before he passed away, he called me into his hospital room and told me to take his jet,” Shain says. “He said, ‘Take my jet and I want you to open an air ambulance company. I want you to go out and change the world – but never forget the charity part, that is most important.’”
Shortly thereafter, Shain came to meet a young man who needed a lung transplant.
“I ended up flying him all over the country to 11 different transplant centers, trying to get him listed, but nobody would,” Shain says. Finally, after an extensive search, a center in New York City was willing to list the young man for a transplant.
“I knew that this was something that I really wanted to do,” Shain explains. “I’ve taken it upon myself to do anything that I can to make sure that anybody who needs an organ is going to have every best available chance to try to live and survive.”
Today, ParaFlight EMS is a full-service medical transport company that provides organ transplant, air ambulance, medical escort services and more via a constantly growing nationwide network of 24/7 on-call pilots and aircraft.
While organizing a traditional medical transport takes between 8 and 10 hours, Shain says that ParaFlight can put together a medical flight in as little as 2 hours – which is critical in emergency situations where time is of the essence.
Today, ParaFlight continues to grow its network of aircraft and pilots with people who share the same goals of giving back and saving lives.
“I hope that [we continue] to find people that say, ‘Hey, I have aircraft and I am willing to keep my phone on 24 hours a day knowing that I am going to be able to save a life,’” he says.
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