A Different Kind of Restoration

July 10, 2020

Jim Brodigan seeks out things to fix. The Base Pilot Supervisor/Line Pilot for Eagle Med in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, spends his free time finding vintage items and restoring them. The broken and the damaged appeal to his innate mechanical sense. For thirteen years, he’s searched through junk yards, the internet and garage sales for motorcycles, ATVs, old radios and television sets. It keeps him off the couch, his mind sharp, his hands busy. 

But little did he know that, on a recent expedition to buy an old pinball machine, it was the seller that he would have to restore, instead.

The pinball machine interested Jim for the same reason aircraft do: It was complex with a 1000 leaf switches, hundreds of moving parts: it was a challenge. It would be his first attempt at fixing one, painstakingly searching for parts and rewiring the electrical. The elderly gentleman selling the machine was kind, his wife equally so. The deal would be no problem, but other signs of trouble arose.

Switching Gears
The man suddenly paled, weakened and became short of breath. Soon, he collapsed and fell to the floor. Jim may be a pilot, but with years in the air ambulance service, he had picked up a lot of medical know-how, as well. The human body is another complex mechanism that interests him. He knew what to do.

After directing the wife to call 911, Jim found the man to be nonresponsive. He checked for a pulse. There was none. He began chest compressions, instinctively understanding that the man’s chances of survival depended on this life-saving technique that can restore partial flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart. Seconds mattered now.

After several minutes the man slowly came to. Jim looked for a sign that he was responsive and the man was able to raise his arm as a response. EMS arrived and transported the patient to a local ICU. The man’s family called to thank Jim and told him the patient was hanging on in the ICU. 

Thanks and Recognition
Sadly, when the patient’s wife called a few days later, it was to say that her husband had passed on. But it was also to give Jim her heartfelt thanks for that extra time she had with her husband. It meant so much to her, and that meant everything to Jim. 

It meant a lot to his peers as well, who recognized his heroic efforts by awarding him the Star of Life, the highest honor in the emergency medical industry. 

Jim has been flying EMS aircraft for more than 15 years. His colleagues say he is humble, even unassuming, but that the more you are around him the more you see his deep compassion, razor-sharp intelligence and his wisdom that comes from both successes and failures, as he would tell you himself.

In the past, Jim has considered going to paramedic school and taking his medical knowledge to the next level. For now, helping people in need as one of the best pilots in the Global Medical Response family of companies is enough. 

And his hobby continues. Some of his projects are complete, some lay unfinished waiting for hard-to-find components. Some he gives to his grandkids, some he resells for the cash to start another restoration. In the end, he seems to live by the motto: if it’s broke, fix it. 

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