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Movement Seven: The Golden Hour

Members of the Hospital Wing staff tell their story:

ALLEN BURNETT, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Everybody is waiting for the red phone to ring.

PHIL SCRUGGS, CHIEF PILOT: If the red phone rings, and the weather’s fine, everyone gets in high gear and in two to three minutes, we’re gone. We have left the hangar complex.

ALLEN BURNETT: We want to be able to transport that patient to a trauma facility within one hour. And we refer to that as “the golden hour.” That’s just real important.

ALLEN BURNETT: We just want to be able to help somebody, and we feel like this is a way that we can use our talent and our ability to do so. Our medical staff goes through vigorous training, recurrent training. The workspace they have is somewhat confined, but it’s just amazing to see them work.

ALLEN BURNETT: Hospital Wing is a 501c3 not-for-profit. All the area hospitals formed a consortium to provide helicopter service for the Memphis area. There needed to be one service that could accommodate any patient need.

SHERRY JENNINGS, FLIGHT NURSE: It’s everything from a trauma patient to a cardiac patient.

CINDY BAILEY, FLIGHT NURSE: It might be in the city, or out in a rural area.

ALLEN BURNETT: We have transported very small babies that they could literally hold in their hand.

CINDY BAILEY: It is a very risky job. Nature is out of your control. We risk our lives every day we come to work.

ALLEN BURNETT: Doug, Misty and Cindy… we will never forget them.

SHERRY JENNINGS: You go out to an accident and this person might look like your brother. You have to distance yourself from it and do what’s necessary, and then let it affect you later.

PHIL SCRUGGS: We sit around after we come back off of a flight… we chat and we talk and we debrief each other, and nobody gets to where they have to take it home.

SHERRY JENNINGS: It’s the best job in the world. I’ve never done anything in my adult life that I have enjoyed as much as I have working here.

PHIL SCRUGGS: And that makes a more cohesive working relationship because they want to be there. They want to do what they’re doing, and do the best they can.

ALLEN BURNETT: It’s long hours, especially for the nurses and paramedics. They work 24 hours.

ALLEN BURNETT: Pray for our safety. What we do is a dangerous job. You can’t totally relax because you know, at any moment, that phone may ring. I guess our first prayer would be that you never have to use us, but in the event that you did, that we’re there.


Robert Patterson
grew up in Memphis. He first studied horn with Richard Dolph in Memphis and later with Robert Fries at Oberlin College. During the 1980s he lived in Memphis but played in the MSO only as a sub. He became a regular member in 1994. In addition to playing the horn, Patterson is also a composer. He has written works in a wide variety of genres, including works for orchestra the the Memphis Symphony has performed. In his composition for Hospital Wing, Patterson uses harp to depict a helicopter’s forward motion and a viola to evoke the uncertainty of medical emergencies as the precious first hour critical to saving an injured patient, “The Golden Hour,” unfolds. A resounding brass commemorates the heroism of these selfless workers who risk their lives every day to save others. At the end, Patterson uses a viola to imply a release from worry – a reassurance that, if we need them, Hospital Wing is there.
Posted: 11/12/2010 4:00:30 PM | with 0 comments

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An ongoing collaboration between the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Underwritten by Duncan-Williams, Inc.