Today the man who took a chance on a young, brash Houston Post crime writer/investigative reporter and brought me into the healthcare industry as a PR coordinator, turns 70 today. William F. Smith of Houston is one of a kind. I owe him a lot. But on this special day, I owe him my profound thanks.
Truth be told, he is really the LIFE behind Life Flight, Hermann Hospital's successful emergency helicopter transport system. A lot of people claim the credit for starting the program, but it was really Bill Smith, Hermann's CEO, who took an incredible chance in 1976 and championed the idea. Somehow, his insight and great instincts knew that it would work.
Life Flight played such an important part in Hermann's remarkable financial turnaround. Yes, trauma legend Dr. James H. "Red" Duke and the late Chief Whitey Martin of the Houston Fire Department EMS Division, were both central to the success, but without Bill Smith Life Flight probably would not exist. And those 13-14 initial programs that followed the Life Flight model might not be around today. And we cannot forget the remarkable Marguerite Badger who, day after day, year after year, made Life Flight what it is today — the heart of Hermann's incredible culture.
I owe Bill a lot. He changed my life. And so do thousands of people whose lives have been saved by the dedicated crews of Life Flight.
Happy Birthday, Bill.
© 2015 John Gregory Self