LifeFlight crew remembered - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

LifeFlight crew remembered

July 23, 2005

Albany- All safety force jobs come with some dangers. For the family members and friends of a nurse, paramedic, and pilot those dangers unfortunately became a reality five years ago.

Several ambulances made their way onto the US 19 Raceway and paused to remember Pilot Bart Bradshaw, Nurse Renee Chapman, and Paramedic Michael "Stick" Elam.

"We need to remember them, not just let them go, so remember the paramedics that saves peoples lives," said Michael Elam, Michael's Father.

"They gave their lives for what they did, they loved their job, they loved their patients, the people, their families," said Randall Balkcom, Michael's former partner and event coordinator.

All three were killed when their Lifeflight helicopter crashed five years ago, July 24, at 2:30 a.m., just ten miles east of Sylvester.

"They were three of the best people on earth that I can think of and they set an example for everybody," said Balkcom.

All three had a love for racing which is why the Dougherty County EMS decided to tie their memorial with Saturday's races. Bart's wife Debbie says Bart was a big Bill Elliott fan, while Michael preferred Jeff Gordon.

"I worried more about him doing motor cross than I did flying in the helicopter, but things happen in life that you have to bear it and go on and remember your son, my son," said Elam.

More than 100 t-shirt remembering the crew were passed out to race fans and colleagues who came to remember the three.

Some of Michael's family, his sister and cousin wore shirts that said, "Gone, but not forgotten."

"Mike knew the dangers of going into that line of work and we talked about it before he left to do that stuff and he was enthused about the job," said Balkcom.

Family members and friends say in the last five years not a day has gone by that they weren't thought about. They say the three would have approved of tonight's remembrance.

"All three of them are right up there right now watching us down on this place," said Elam. Worth Baptist's Life Flight three helicopter crashed on it's way back from dropping off a patient in Savannah, July 24, 2000.

feedback: news@walb.com