FLYING Magazine

The hazards sneak up on you, be it the hot sun, potential storms, or the chance of accidents that come along with an airshow. And with the broad age range in attendance—from expectant mothers to seniors with mobility challenges—anything can happen. 

That’s why each year the Sun ’n Fun organization solicits volunteers with medical training to staff a significant clinic on site at the event.

Medical Hospitality

Dr. Peter Alverez, a former U.S. Navy pilot, signed on eight years ago to co-direct the clinic, after its founding physician passed away. He serves with Dr. Hermanio Cuervo, a neurologist, who was an F-4 pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and Dr. Sergio Saeone, who has flown as part of the Civil Air Patrol. 

“About 10 of us in total work at the clinic each year,” said Alverez, with three or four at the clinic at any given time. “Saturday is the busiest day,” he said, with the general public attending en masse for the air shows. 

During the show, the clinic sees 60 to 80 patients each day, with injuries and illnesses ranging from heat stroke to heart attacks. While they haven’t delivered a baby on site in a while, there’s an OB-GYN on the rotation just in case. 

Almost all of the physicians are pilots—and at least one of the nurses too. Margo Wesley is one, and she enjoys patching up her fellow aviators: “We have fun looking after people.” 

The medical hospitality tent sits outside the brick-and-mortar clinic at Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo to hand out necessities to visiting pilots. [Photo: Julie Boatman]

A Team Effort

With so many pros in the clinic, a patient may find themselves cared for by a team of specialists, such as nurse Bryan Schuler, Dr. Uzi Talli, a cardiologist, and Dr. Jim Sechter, a nephrologist. 

While the volunteers there say their clinic is small compared to the one hosted on the grounds of EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, they still have good resources at hand—and valuable advice they give out along with sunscreen, bandages, stitches, and IV fluids.

The camaraderie is evident. And the care is provided free of charge by the all-volunteer staff. If you’re interested in lending a hand next year, contact the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo.

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