Exclusive: Hawaii Air Ambulance looks to shed turbulent past

Dave Heck
Dave Heck

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HANA (KHNL) - They've made more than 500 flights and saved hundreds of lives. But why is the Hawaii Air Ambulance still trying to shed a turbulent past?

It's another flight for Hawaii Air Ambulance lead pilot Dave Heck. This time, high above Maui on the way to the remote town of Hana.

"Helping people, there's nothing that beats going to work everyday, knowing you're doing some good, you're helping someone, helping save lives, helping someone feel better," he said.

But heck and others are trying to help people feel better in another way.

This after a shaky past, highlighted by two crashes. Hawaii Air Ambulance is now trying to shake those past fears and doubts.

"Although the name is currently the same, the company has been entirely revamped," he said.

By this, he means, new management, stricter training policies, newer, safer planes and better maintenance procedures.

"We're proud to be earning your trust back," he said.

For three years, Heck has flown for Hawaii Air Ambulance. Before that, he was a commercial pilot in the Mainland. In this business, besides safety, there's really just one other thing that matters.

"Timing is everything, so the faster you get the patient to the proper facility, the better your chances of survival," he said.

The Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight organization has helped many throughout the years, but because of its rural location, they say the town of Hana benefits the most from their services.

"From Kahului to Hana is the best representation of how we can serve the people of Hawaii and that's what we're most proud of," Heck said.

A pride he shares with not only the flight crew, but the countless lives they've touched in the skies.