Interviewing a LifeMed Alaska Flight Paramedic...Making an #AKHero

The Makings of an #AKHero

An Interview with David Svobodny, Flight Paramedic and Base Chief for LifeMed Alaska in Juneau

LifeMed David Juneau

LifeMed Alaska Flight Paramedic and Juneau Base Chief, David Svobodny, speaking at the Juneau hanger opening in June.

LifeMed Alaska is generating a lot of buzz around the State with their #AKHero campaign. Alaskans from Kenai to Kotzebue are sharing the stories of the first responders they want to recognize, and for good reason! There is over $2,000 in prizes available to the winners of the Heroes of the Last Frontier contest.

LifeMed Alaska post 3LifeMed Alaska post 2 #AKHero campaign posts shared by LifeMed Alaska

One lucky winner will be selected from Petersburg, a city in the Southeast. LifeMed, an air medical transport company, announced their commencement of service in Petersburg this October. We were able to get an interview with David Svobodny, Flight Paramedic and Base Chief for LifeMed in Juneau. Juneau is the capital of Alaska in the Southeast and the base from which LifeMed serves Petersburg. Born and raised in Juneau, David was able to share with us the unique lifestyle of Southeast Alaska. A first responder himself, David gave us a glimpse into the makings of a #AKHero. THE ALASKA LIFE: “What is unique about living in Southeast Alaska?” DAVID:We are not connected to the road system. Of course, this is true of Bush Alaska as well. Everything that comes into town must go by boat or plane. THE ALASKA LIFE: “What did this mean for you and your family?” DAVID:You’re familiar with the ‘family weekend road trip,’ right? My family had the ‘weekend ferry trip.’ The Southeast is connected by waterways, serviced by the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. The ferry came, we boarded, plopped down in our sleeping bags wherever we could, and arrived at another town in the Southeast.” LifeMed Alaska Ferry

A ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway.

THE ALASKA LIFE: “What were some of your favorite places to visit?” DAVID:Well, speaking of Petersburg, we visited most years in May to camp out and enjoy the Little Norway Festival, a celebration of Norwegian Independence for a town with Norwegian roots. Petersburg was originally founded by Norwegian fisherman. That being said, one of my all-time favorite places to go by ferry is the Hot Springs in Wrangell, which I have visited consistently for the past five years with my lifelong friends.” LifeMed Alaska Petersburg

The Sons of Norway Lodge and Bojer Wikan Fishermen’s Memorial Park in Petersburg.

THE ALASKA LIFE: “What do you like to do with your free time?” DAVID:I am an avid fisher in the summer and skier in the winter. My friends and I fly fish wherever we can drive and hike to in and around Juneau. On occasion, we take a float plane to the Turner Lake cabin, a forest service cabin located about 20 miles East of Juneau by plane in the Tongass National Forest. Alaska has a strong network of forest service cabins, available for free public reservation. Turner Lake is great for salmon, trout, and Dolly Varden. Our favorite spot to dipnet is Sweetheart Creek, about 30 miles Southeast of Juneau by plane.” LifeMed Alaska Float Plane

A Ward Air float plane chartered by David and friends to Turner Lake.

THE ALASKA LIFE: “Can you describe your medical career?” DAVID:My very first medical job was with the Eaglecrest Ski Area, our public slopes in Juneau. In the early to mid 2000s, I spent two seasons on the Ski Patrol. This position prepared me for my career as a Flight Paramedic. I have been serving the Southeast on air medical transports for the past three years, taking local calls and making connections to Seattle, which is about two hours out of Juneau. Alaska facilities do not always have the equipment to handle certain, severe medical cases, which is why we transfer from Juneau to Seattle. In May of this year, I took the position as Juneau Base Chief with LifeMed.” LifeMed Alaska Skiing

David skiing with friends.

LifeMed Alaska Lear Jet

One of LifeMed Alaska’s Learjets, capable of reaching Seattle, Washington from Juneau, Alaska with a range of 2,000 statute miles, resting on the Juneau tarmac.

THE ALASKA LIFE: “Any closing comments on LifeMed’s Petersburg announcement?” DAVID:I am really excited that we’re going to be there. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up a regular tourist to Petersburg!” Many thanks to David for sharing what The Alaska Life looks like in the Southeast and how he became a #AKHero! Stay tuned for more stories like David’s. For stories of Alaskans from the past, read our Journal!

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