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From EMT to CEO: How Sim Shain Turned His Passion for Giving Into a Life-Saving Aviation Enterprise

 

Who said an abundance of caring didn’t make for good business? It certainly wasn’t Sim Shain.

Shain is the owner of two life-saving aviation companies, Paraflights Emergency Medical Services and OrganFlights.com. But he didn’t start his career as a CEO. In fact, he began as a paramedic and continues to retain his license to this day.

Why does a busy CEO need a paramedic license? Because he continues to give back through volunteering. He also works on flights for his own company to stay connected to the business and the patients he serves.

The Mission, Not the Profits

After serving as a first responder on September 11, 2001, Shain met and built a close relationship with Steve Zakheim, a philanthropist who had outfitted his private jet with a stretcher and oxygen. For many years he worked for Zakheim as a paramedic, flying around the world on charity flights, arranged to help people get to hospitals, doctor consultations and rehabilitation centers.

When Zakheim passed away in 2012, he left his jet to Shain with instructions to set up his own paraflight company and continue his essential charity work. Shain took that legacy to heart and founded a business that is mission-driven, not profit-driven.

“We never capitalize on tragedy,” he said. “That’s the opposite of the point of what we do. It’s about taking care of other people when they need it.”

And taking care of others is at the heart of his two companies. From the patients he serves to the pilots, physicians and medical staff who work for him, Shain always considers their plight and responds to their needs.

One of the things that sets the company apart is Shain’s concern for his employees. When recruited for a flight, his staff is not only fed, but they are fed well. In fact, he takes the time to find out what their favorite meals are. He refers to his doctors as “celebrities” and truly respects the work they do to save the lives of others.

“They’re the real heroes of this operation, and I want to treat them like they are,” he said. “Saving lives is often a thankless job, so I want to show my gratitude.”

Patients can expect the same level of care. When traveling with Shain’s company, every detail of the trip is taken care of, from the air transport to the ground transport. Shain even makes sure the patient’s medicines are available on the other end. In addition, Shain believes in allowing access to services regardless of ability to pay.

“We don’t say no to saving a life,” he said. “Nothing else matters but taking care of people when they need it most. Money should never get in the way of that.”

Organ Flights, Done Fast

Shain is more than a caring paramedic and savvy CEO; he is also an industry innovator. Organ donations require intricate timing, or the opportunity to save a life could be missed. Concerned about the time medical professionals lose looking for a donation flight, Shain thought to revamp the process to save as many precious moments as possible.

His idea was to create a network that could organize the entire process from a central hub, thus taking care of every last detail quickly and efficiently. With that goal in mind, Shain continuously recruits for and maintains a large number of operators who can be available on two hours’ notice or less.

“We have 100s of aircraft we have access to thanks to our relationship with other companies, and we’re able to help improve and save even more lives this way,” he said. “It’s a huge blessing to be able to have this kind of impact.”

This extensive network is only a part of how Shain has achieved something that has eluded hospital staff and transport companies thus far. The other vital piece to the puzzle is technology.

When a hospital contacts OrganFlights.com, Shain’s dispatch team can use an app to send the flight request to available personnel, who can then respond to book the flight on their phone or PC. The dispatch team is able to remain in communication with the transportation team (or teams), giving information on the procedure and real-time travel updates on the transportation.

Teamwork for Transplants

The inventive system used by OrganFlights.com doesn’t only help save the precious moments needed for organ viability; it also frees hospital personnel from the extensive phone calls and inquiries required to arrange transportation. This freedom can easily translate to more time spent meeting the needs of the patient and providing compassionate care to the families who are losing a loved one in the transplant process. In addition, ParaFlight has a full concierge corporate flight department that helps businesses manage their private aviation and capitalize / maximize their day. With catered meals on board and executive ground transportation waiting for them planeside, they can focus on their business while we ensure that their day runs smoothly, getting them where they need to be.

Shain strives for a seamless transition from donor to recipient, no matter what it takes to make that happen. For his part, he has made a career out of caring for others and has no regrets.

“We love what we do because we get to be partners in saving lives, and that’s pretty exciting,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all have to cash our chips in. We only live once, and I can’t see myself doing anything else with this life.”

About Sim Shain

Sim Shain, Founder and CEO of ParaFlight EMS and Aviation and OrganFlights.com has led an impressive twenty-eight-year career working in the pre-hospital emergency medical space. He is a noteworthy leader who takes on challenging responsibilities leading corporate, medical, and charity flights and missions, specializing in organ transplants.

LA Weekly