Photo Shoot at MedFlight

A great Friday afternoon working with...

By Bill Nordquist, Managing Director, Heavy Content, Ltd.

At Heavy Content we're fortunate to work with both MedFlight and EyeThink Visual Communications. Together, we come up with some really nice marketing communications pieces that help advance MedFlight's mission. On the MedFlight side, we work with Samantha Primmer, Todd Bailey and Rod Crane. The EyeThink team consists of Chris Webster, Gary Sankey and Tom Webster.

MedFlight's fleet of state-of-the-art EC130 helicopters, Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICUs) and MedCare ambulances are positioned at bases across Ohio. Ohioans are fortunate to have such a top-caliber organization ready to help when we most desperately need it. Adding to their overall excellence, MedFlight is a non-profit organization owned by OhioHealth and The Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, with sponsorship from Akron General Medical Center.

But first, a little about why this was a particularly appealing work day for me...

The "Walls of Speed" in my office, which include: my dad's solo pilot certificate, various foot-race trophies, a photo of my daughter Emily - among the fastest 400 meter racers in Ohio - and a carrier-based F-15 model gone completely vertical. There's a print showing Team Penske and Columbus' own Rahal IndyCar team to the right.

I grew up in an aviation and speed-centered household. My dad and my Uncle Art were private pilots and owned a Piper Cub. They also owned a Chris-Craft speed boat and a variety of 50s-era sports cars, including an Austin Healey Bugeyed Sprite. Growing up, my dream was to become pilot, but that dream was squashed at age 13 when we figured out I was colorblind.

Nonetheless, my love for aviation and speed endured. I flew model airplanes, attended air shows whenever I could, and relished any opportunity for flight even if it was just riding aboard a 727. I worked in motorsports for many years, owned a few motorcycles and sports cars, and actually raced scooters. I still like to run as fast as my feet will take me. So you can see how working with an organization that combines swiftness and flight has a certain appeal for me, not to mention the lifesaving impact.

Over the years we've done a lot of work with MedFlight, including a complete visual identity campaign, publications, signage, calendars, vehicle graphics and more.

On this particular Friday our project was a photo shoot of MedFlight's new Mobile Outreach Education vehicle (the exterior graphics were also done by the EyeThink team). The RV-sized vehicle holds a METI simulation lab and travels all over Ohio to provide free advanced continuing education for paramedics, nurses, EMTs and other first-responders. The shoot was scheduled at MedFlight's Columbus base at The Ohio State University Airport.

FYI: I'm not the photographer. These shots were taken with my phone while the real photo shoot was going on. And yes, it is a cloudy day: the ambient light was perfect for shooting the brightly colored vehicle.


MedFlight's Fred Davis is the primary driver of the Mobile Outreach Education vehicle. I took a few photos of the hangar, landing zone and adjacent facilities while Fred warmed up the vehicle and got it into position for the shoot.

That's Fred on his way to fire up the Mobile Outreach Education vehicle. Fred is a former U.S. Army Medic and also worked with Ohio State's pioneering HeartMobile program in the 1970s. The HeartMobile developed many of the early EMS protocols that were later adopted by Columbus Fire's first medic squads.

This is the new Nationwide Children's Hospital helicopter, named Monarch 1. MedFlight and Nationwide Children's have a longstanding relationship and Monarch 1 is based and maintained at the MedFlight hangar. The ship is moved in and out of the hangar by a battery-powered trolley.

The hangar also houses the Columbus-based MICU units and the Mobile Outreach Education vehicle. In its previous life the hangar was part of the Ohio Air National Guard base. There are crew quarters and offices off to the left.

Most people see the helicopters overhead and think that air transport is all MedFlight does. But MedFlight also operates a fleet of MICUs, which are basically intensive care units on wheels. The MICUs are much more than an ambulance, and most often transfer critical care patients from rural hospitals to specialized care facilities at major medical centers. The MICUs can also make transport runs when helicopters can't fly due to weather.

Here's a close-up of Monarch 1, which is a large capacity EC145 with the capability to carry specialized pediatric equipment - like an incubator - and to take a parent along while a child is being transported to Nationwide Children's Hospital. Nice.

This is one of eight MedFlight helicopters based around Ohio. These EC130 ships were custom-built to MedFlight's specifications. They are equipped with all the latest safety equipment including night vision technology, terrain mapping, real-time weather and more, as well as specialized air-medical equipment. The fleet is dispatched from MedFlight's own Midwest Communications Center, known as MedComm. MedComm also provides dispatch services for air-medical programs that serve West Virginia and Indiana.

I was part of the team that worked on the design scheme so I might be a little biased, but I think she's a really beautiful ship. The graphics were designed for high visibility in various weather and terrain conditions. Design team member Tom Webster is also a private pilot, so he brought a lot of aerial visibility experience to the project.

My coworker on this project is Graphic Designer Chris Webster, who happens to a be pretty fair photographer due to her natural artistic talent but also because she gets pointers from her husband and photographer extraordinaire, Stephen Webster. Chris also likes to go fast - she's a marathon coach with Columbus' MIT program.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's "Bear in the Air" fleet is based at the hangar next door.

The airport's "long-term airplane parking" area is on the other side of the MedFlight hangar. I think the big one is a Grumman Albatross seaplane.

All in all, a photo shoot at MedFlight is not a bad way for an aviation buff to spend a Friday afternoon at work.