NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – A ThedaStar father-son duo is sharing their experiences working alongside each other as retirement plans loom over the horizon.
According to a release, Tim Lenth is preparing to retire after 30 years as a ThedaStar flight nurse. Right now, Tim works alongside his own son, Adam Lenth, which seems to bring a new meaning to treating your coworkers like family.
ThedaStar says these air medical flight nurses are possibly the only father-son duo in the nation to work on an air medical flight crew. Both have worked many shifts together and have an unbreakable bond of support, something Tim says is important in this industry.
“When you have a crew like we do, it makes the job enjoyable,” says Tim. “You know each other so well, supporting each other’s strengths. When you respond to a scene and begin caring for a patient, without even speaking, you know what the other team member is doing, with everyone playing a critical role to provide the best care possible.”
Tim says he has served as a flight nurse for more than three decades, and an emergency department nurse and EMT prior to joining. ThedaStar staff says Tim is one of the longest-serving crew members of the program, which began in 1986.
“In 30 years, the biggest change has been the technology,” adds Tim. “We have better equipment that has helped us save more lives. Patient care has not really changed – it always goes back to the basics to evaluate the situation and stabilize a patient. The additional technology we have access to allows us to provide better care and improve outcomes for those who need us.”
This year marks the 35th year and ThedaStar officials say they have completed more than 15,000 flights providing emergency medical transport services to communities across Northeast and Central Wisconsin.
As a whole, ThedaStar provides inter-facility helicopter transports and scene responses for critically ill or injured patients from incident scenes and for patients who need specialized care services at ThedaCare hospitals or other centers.
Tim says he always knew his son Adam would be great as a flight nurse. “I always wanted him to do this job, I knew he would be a great fit,” explains Tim. “I tried talking to him about applying, and ultimately, it was some of the other flight nurses that have been here since the program began that sealed the deal. Like most kids, I should have known he’d listen to someone else’s advice.”
Adam first worked cleaning the emergency department at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah at the age of 18, became a CNA, found his way to the ThedaStar Dispatch Center, and later became an emergency department nurse.
When a spot opened on the ThedaStar team, Adam says he wasn’t exactly sure he’d apply for the highly sought-after position, but the proof that he fits the team is in the six years he has worked in the program.
“It’s been a really neat experience,” says Adam. “I’m very grateful I have the opportunity to be a part of this team, and work alongside my dad. They are truly the best at what they do.”
Adam also adds that years of experience have made his father a good teacher. “I learn so much from him. This job is very different than anything else in health care. To have someone who has experienced various situations, and can share that knowledge with me is priceless.”
With support being one piece of the puzzle that keeps the program together, the duo says they also provide strength for each other.
“Just like any other job, this one can be stressful,” explains Tim. “Many people don’t understand what we go through. It’s important that we lean on one another. To have a dad and son be that person for each other, it’s special.”
Will the team expect another generation?
Out of his four children, Adam says he’s not sure what the future might hold.
“We’ll see if any of them have an interest in the career,” says Adam. “If they do, it would be really neat.”
Until Tim takes the next step to retirement on August 20, ThedaStar says the two will continue working together, providing the best care possible for patients and families.