Hirsch delivers help where it’s needed
The son of an Air Force pilot and a nurse, Stuart Hirsch ’95, ’10, had an early idea of what he might grow up to be.
“I was used as a patient for a photo shoot when I was 3, promoting the first air ambulance in our region,” he says. “That was my first notion of how aviation and healthcare worked together.”
Hirsch, a professional pilot with anthropology and nursing degrees from Binghamton, is founder and CEO of Archangel Airborne, based near Monticello, N.Y., which flies medical supplies and personnel to areas in need, such as regions hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Since its beginning in 2010, the group has flown 11 missions, the most recent to Haiti last November. In seven missions to the impoverished nation, the medical teams set up mobile clinics in remote areas to treat hundreds of patients suffering from cholera, malaria and injuries suffered in road accidents.
“Drivers have a tendency to overload vehicles with people,” Hirsch says. “Public transport is basically a small light-duty truck with 10 to 20 people. Sometimes people are on the roof. If there’s an accident, you have 20 bodies flying in any one direction.”
The concept for Archangel Airborne started taking shape in the early 1990s during a trip Hirsch took to the Dominican Republic while studying and serving as a novice in the Jesuit order. Hirsch crossed into northern Haiti and was struck by the primitive medical care.
“I started envisioning and designing a highly skilled response team that could fly into areas in times of need,” he says. “It inspired me to get my anthropology degree at Binghamton, and I began my professional flight training as well.”
Hirsch also is administrator of emergency services at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, but sees Archangel Airborne becoming a full-time endeavor because of donor support and a dire need for medical care globally.
“It’s amazing seeing what can be done with a small team going to where the people are,” Hirsch says. “[We can’t] replicate everything we have in the U.S. But there are things we can do to help the people have long, fulfilling lives.”