Episode 86 – Pilot Down But Not Out w/Wade Dunford & Scott Davis


An incapacitated pilot scenario is an unfortunate but potential reality of working in rotor and fixed wing EMS. What do you do as medical crew members if your pilot becomes incapacitated? What training and capabilities do you have to revive the pilot and/or get the aircraft on the ground? Do some Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) incidents actually involve an incapacitated pilot?

In this podcast episode, we are joined by Pilot Wade Dunford and Flight Paramedic Scott Davis to discuss their Incapacitated Pilot Working Group (IPWG) and how they have taken steps to address this issue in their region. We cover the crawl, walk, and run phases, and how you can stabilize an aircraft using a 3-axis autopilot system.




Wade J. Dunford is a Commercial Helicopter Pilot and serves as Lead Pilot and Base Aviation Manager for Carilion Clinic LifeGuard-10 in Roanoke, Virginia. He assumed this position in 2015, upon his retirement from the United States Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel, after more than two decades of honorable service. Wade hails from Culpeper, Virginia, is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and was commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1995. During his Marine Corps career, he served with multiple tactical squadrons, an infantry battalion, and on staff at Headquarters, United States Marine Corps Aviation, at the Pentagon. In 2004, Wade was selected for duty with Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) where he served as a Command and Marine One Pilot, directly responsible for the safe helicopter transport of the President of the United States (George W. Bush). His final post in the U.S. Marine Corps was as Commanding Officer, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461. Wade holds a B.A. degree in Economics and Business from the Virginia Military Institute (Lexington, Virginia) and a M.A. degree in Military Studies from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (Quantico, Virginia). Wade, his wife Renee, and son Connor live in Franklin County, Virginia, love the Roanoke area, and are active members of St John’s Episcopal Church. Wade enjoys woodworking, the outdoors, and is President of the Virginia Children’s Theatre (VCT) Board of Directors. 


Scott Davis is a Flight Paramedic with Carilion Clinic Life-Guard in Southwest Virginia. He was born and raised in Blacksburg, Virginia, home of the Virginia Tech Hokies. He started his EMS career as a volunteer at Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, obtaining his EMT certification during his junior year in high school. Scott attended Radford University Carilion (RUC), where he completed an Associates of Applied Science degree in Emergency Health Sciences and obtained his National Registry Paramedic. While working as a full-time 911 Paramedic, he returned to RUC to complete a Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Services (with a focus in Critical Care Medicine). Scott has 15 years of prehospital EMS/Transport experience and has worked full-time as a Flight Paramedic for Carilion Clinic Life-Guard for the last 8 years. Scott serves on the Western Virginia EMS Council (WVEMS) Trauma Triage and Performance Improvement Committee. He is an educator and adjunct faculty for WVEMS and a regular speaker at state and national conferences. Scott continues to serve his community as the Deputy Chief of EMS Operations for Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, running and biking. 


Honorable mentions:

Jim Zartman, Pilot (Retired)

Sid Bingley, Flight Nurse

Robert Youther, Flight Paramedic

Tyson LeRoy, Pilot

A fighting chance: Surviving pilot incapacitation

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