Sim Shain acquired a burning passion for saving other people’s lives at a young age that would end up defining him as an adult.
His father was an emergency medical technician. Sim remembers how his dad would drop anything and everything when he needed to go and assist his local squad during an emergency.
“My father would drop anything, no matter what it was. He would leave his business and even our family home when he was needed.”
Sim grew up admiring his father’s vocation and decided that he would, one day, follow in his footsteps. Staying true to this admiration, he grew up to be an EMT just like his dad.
“In 1993, I picked up my phone and called two numbers of local squads to tell them that I wanted to join. Ten minutes later, I got a call. Ten more minutes after that, I was at my first interview, and 40 minutes after, I was accepted as a squad member.”
Then, 9/11 happened, and Sim went to the trenches to help the victims. This is where he met the man that would become his mentor and one of his best friends: Steve Zakheim.
Steve was an accomplished businessman with the same calling for helping others as Sim Shain.
“He had the largest private ambulance service in New York State. After 9/11, he created a team of paramedics who would go anywhere in the world to help soldiers and victims of war,” Sim recalls, “He and I became close friends. He was an example that furthered my calling to save lives and become a paramedic in 2007.”
Birds of a feather do indeed flock together. In 2008, Sim began flying on Steve’s private jet to transport people for medical treatment or to meet with specialists around the country.
Some of them could barely afford to pay for the trips, so Steve would help them with some of the expenses out of his own pocket. “For example, he spent $55,000 to put a stretcher with oxygen onboard and outfit the plane for medical treatment.”
“We became business partners and opened three pharmacies together,” Sim recalls.
Unfortunately, Steve Zakheim got leukemia in 2012 from his exposure to the 9/11 site. “He was at ground zero for more than 30 days,” Sim explains.
“Steve was diagnosed in 2012 and passed away in 2013. But before he did, he called me into his room at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and said: ‘I want you to take my plane and go change the world.’ What he meant was ‘open up an air ambulance company and help people out.’”
Sim encouraged the family to sell the aircraft as it was too overwhelming at the time to incur the expense and management of a jet, but he held onto Steve’s dream and began helping people make medical trips.
After Steve passed away, one of Sim’s first experiences was helping a young boy from a camp for people with cancer and disabilities called Camp Simcha. This eighteen-year-old boy needed a lung transplant.
Sim went above and beyond and crossed the entire country with the youngster’s parents. They visited eleven transplant centers until Sim managed to help the boy get on a center’s donation list.
“This last center invited me to a meeting because they needed somebody who could arrange their transplant flights. I was already doing air ambulance work at that time, and I remember thinking, ‘I know nothing about making those trips, but let’s do it.’”
So, the transplant center and Sim ended up helping each other.
This experience motivated Sim to devote his life to making sure other people could be saved by getting a plane when they needed it.
“That’s why I committed my life to this mission. It’s a 24/7 job to do whatever I can to ensure as many people who need a vital organ or a trip to save their lives get it.”
The perils that Sim faced while helping his young friend and when he started helping more people made him realize the need for a more convenient way to make those trips.
“We would sit at 03:00 am and call thirty different operators depending on where in the country this was happening.”
For something so vital, Sim knew there had to be a better way.
“I remember having this epiphany when I was asking myself, ‘why can’t we just do something like an Uber for transplant flights?’ I had a friend who’d built apps, and I told him that I wanted to create an app to simplify the lives of transplant teams and the people that need health-related trips.”
He hired his friend to build the OrganFlights.com app, offered it free of charge to transplant centers and aircraft operators, and Sim established the full-scale ParaFlight emergency medical service.
ParaFlight Helps People Get Where Care Is Available to Them
ParaFlight allows any transplant center or Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) to book a transplant flight. The company offers four services: corporate jet charters, organ transplant-related flights, air ambulance, and medical escorts on commercial airline flights.
ParaFlight’s flagship service is organ transplant-related flights. They are experts in transporting organs, transplant teams, and medical professionals.
Time is of the essence when it comes to organ transplants. The organs need to be taken from their origin to the destination as fast as possible to ensure the procedure’s viability.
These trips involve so many logistic variables that it usually requires many hours to fully organize them. ParaFlight can have a flight ready in as little as two hours.
Two assets allow Sim and his collaborators to meet this rapid timeframe.
One is the network of hospitals, charter companies, airport personnel, and healthcare professionals that Sim and his team can leverage for quick response.
The other is the OrganFlights.com mobile app. Once a flight is requested, ParaFlight’s team can use the app to send a request to over 100 charter flight companies to schedule the fastest, most convenient trip.
In addition to rapid service, ParaFlight can bring health professionals on the flight to assist their clients.
Lastly, Sim and his team offer medical escorts for people with injuries, chronic illnesses, and other non-life-threatening health issues. They have recently opened a division that provides mental health professionals and companions to help transport patients to mental health facilities and drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers.
ParaFlight takes these individuals from origin to destination, bed to bed, on national or international trips. The service includes expedition through airport security and the aid of one or more physicians, nurses, or paramedics.
For Sim, the mission of saving as many lives as possible takes absolute priority over profit or competition.
“We work with everybody as long as we can achieve the objective. We work with our competitors and people that are not even our clients, like in the case of our air ambulance service. People just call us in their time of pressing need and we will do everything within our reach to get them on a plane.”
Sometimes, this job takes a toll on the ParaFlight team. Still, nothing compares to the satisfaction of helping another person have a new lease on life.
“Perhaps we haven’t slept for 24 hours after a trip. I remind my team, at those times, and after every mission, that another life was saved thanks to them.”
More than the businessman that he is, Sim Shain is a paramedic defined by a calling to save as many people as possible. There is no turning back on that.
If you are interested in ParaFlight’s services, you can visit their website or reach them through their Facebook page.