MedEvac Foundation Raises $205,000 By 'Ransoming' Heroes for Charity

Is kidnapping for a good cause justified? MedEvac Foundation International, the charitable arm of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), thinks so; especially because the "captives" were willing participants.

In fact, eight such captives raised an impressive $205,000 in ransom—actually charitable donations—during "Mission San Juan Island: Hero Retrieval." The funds they raised went to help the MedEvac Foundation continue to identify and promote best practices for air medical and critical care providers.

The "Hero Retrieval" was staged two days before the 2012 Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC), which was held by AAMS in Seattle, WA, October 22–24, 2012. Eight heroes were "kidnapped" and taken either by boat or airplane to a Roche Harbor resort on nearby San Juan Island. To "escape," they each had to convince family, friends and business associates to pledge money to the MedEvac Foundation to the tune of $20,000 apiece. The total goal was $160,000.

“The fact that we managed to surpass $160,000 and reach $205,000 is a testament to the support our heroes received, plus the generosity of Roche Harbor residents who took part in a fundraising auction,” says Rick Sherlock, CEO of AAMS and the MedEvac Foundation. “There really was tremendous support for the Hero Retrieval concept; both by the eight participants and by those who bought their ‘freedom’.”   

For the record, the eight brave captives who endured staying at an extremely pleasant seaside resort while awaiting release were:

  • Mike Stanberry, "Chief Hero" and CEO of Metro Aviation
  • Wade Black, CEO/owner of SevenBar Flying Service
  • Fred Buttrell, CEO Air Medical Group Holdings and CEO Med-Trans Corporation
  • Eileen Frazer, CAMTS Executive Director
  • Kevin Hutton, CEO/owner of Golden Hour
  • Howard Ragsdale, SVP Air Method
  • Larry Roberts, SVP Bell Helicopter, and
  • Mike Throne, CEO/owner of John F. Throne & Co.   

“Each of these Heroes accepted a ‘mission’ to raise money for the Foundation, which is just incredible,” said Mike Stanberry after his release. “They are passionate about medical transport and very pleased to give back to the medevac community. With San Juan Island as the mission location, it was a memorable and successful event.”

Indeed. Such was the level of the Heroes suffering at this wonderful resort, that “we had a hard time getting some captives to let themselves be retrieved,” Sherlock said.  

This was the first time that the MedEvac Foundation has staged ‘Mission San Juan Island: Hero Retrieval’. “We got the ideas from STARS, the HEMS service in western Canada,” said Sherlock. “But we adapted it to mesh with our convention being held in Seattle. Since we were beside the Pacific, it made sense to hold our captives on an ocean island, isolated from the mainland.”

Mindful that time was of the essence, the captives started fund-raising their "ransoms" before arriving on San Juan Island, where they only had access to we-mail and cellphones to make their pleas for help. All made their ransom goals by the time the Air Medical Transport Conference got underway.

Aiding the MedEvac Foundation in their nefarious plans were seven Hero Retrieval sponsors. Again for the record, these corporate henchmen were Airlift Northwest, Cessna Aircraft Company, Island Air, San Juan Island EMS, PeaceHealth Health System, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Physio-Control.

Some of these sponsors went as far as flying the captives into San Juan Island by small plane. When kidnaping is justifiable by charity, it seems that there no limits to what some people will be willing to do.

So will the MedEvac Foundation be repeating the same ocean island kidnaping scenario next year, when the 2013 convention is being held in Virginia Beach, VA on October 21–23? Don’t bet on it.   

“Since we’ll be close to many Colonial America historical sites, we will likely theme next year’s retrieval to tie into this history,” said Sherlock. Translation: If you receive a call for ransom from a 2013 Hero, saying they’re being held by Thomas Jefferson, you’ll know what this is all about.

James Careless is a freelance writer with extensive experience covering computer technologies.