Grand Canyon paramedic, lead helitack wins national award

Eric Graff stands next to his helicopter, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park Public Affairs Office, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Tenacious. Diligent. Innovative. These attributes are only a few of the reasons why Eric Graff, lead helitack and paramedic at Grand Canyon National Park, received the inaugural Tom Clausing Aviation All Risk Programs Award, announced Tuesday in a press statement by national park officials.

Graff works with co-workers, rangers and pilots to ensure the highest level of patient care while managing risks and maintaining efficiency throughout missions. He also established an interagency course for fireline EMS resources in the Southwest. This program ensures that EMS providers can work safely in the harsh environment of a wildland fire while effectively providing care to firefighters.

With his expertise as an National Park Service paramedic and helicopter manager, Graff also played an important part in developing the new medical incident report, found in the 2014 “Incident Response Pocket Guide” and the new ICS-206 Wildland Fire, Medical Plan form.

Graff has saved several lives in his career and will save many more by teaching and sharing his skills. Jay Lusher, Grand Canyon’s chief of fire and aviation, feels strongly that Graff “characterizes the Tom Clausing Aviation All Risk Program Award in all aspects of his actions.”

About the award

This national award, named in honor of former Grand Canyon Paramedic Tom Clausing, “recognizes an individual or organization who shows exemplary qualities in the area of all risk services,” according to a statement issued by Grand Canyon National Park Public Affairs Office.

Clausing worked at the Grand Canyon for six seasons, striving to advance Grand Canyon’s emergency medical services and the relationship of rangers, firefighters and pilots. He lost his life in a helicopter crash in Flagstaff, Arizona, while providing care to an injured firefighter. The award that bears his name honors anyone who, like Clausing, works tirelessly to improve provider skills and further aviation hazards programs.

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