Phoenix Children's Hospital Project

Phoenix Children's Hospital here is Phoenix is coming up on it's 30th anniversary. To commemorate that, the hospital is putting together a book that documents "a day in the life" style look into how every aspect of the hospital operates. The book will be given to the hospital's financial supporters, and also offered for sale sometime this spring.

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This shoot has been in the planning stages for months, waiting for everything to come together. Finally, about three weeks ago, I nailed down the date and worked like crazy to lock the details in place for the logistics. First I needed the hospital's ER department to approve the date and use of the helipad for an hour. Then when I heard that they signed off on the date, I needed a helicopter and crew. I knew the nearest helo to PCH was Phi Air Medical's Air Evac 1 based just a mile or two away at Sky Harbor Airport. With the date locked in, I only had 5 days left to secure the helicopter and crew. I emailed my contact from the HALO shoot I did about a year ago, he forwarded my request to his supervisor, who forwarded it, who forwarded it, who forwarded it, etc.

My request made it's way to the inbox of Phi's regional director who quickly green-lighted it and I was contacted by Air Evac 1's operations manager the very next day to talk about the shoot and details. I was incredibly impressed by how quickly Phi made this happen. Now with the permission to shoot, and finally having a helicopter and crew to utilize, there was a lot of back and forth between myself, the hospital's communications dept (handling the whole project) and the security department regarding which helipad we were to use. I was pushing for the upper pad on the hospital roof for the view and location advantages, but security wanted us on the parking structure pad to keep the main pad available for traumas. I couldn't fight that one.

Once the logistics were finalized (just a stressful couple of days before the shoot date) I was able to focus my stress on the weather. Sunny AZ was in it's 4th straight day of rain and wind, and this day was gonna be hit or miss with the weather. High winds were guaranteed, but whether it was going to be party cloudy or full on hail storm was a roll of the dice..... and the dice of course landed on hail. And gusting winds. And freezing rain....

I met with the Air Evac crew a couple of days before the shoot to talk about timing, and approach patterns, what we'd be doing as they approached, after engine shutdown, etc., and I asked them to touch down on the pad at 4pm. Until 3:45pm, it was a gorgeous afternoon, and at 3:55pm the winds were set on tornado with the hail and freezing rain starting. Perfect. So as the helo entered their approach, I had my two hospital residents freezing on the pad to await their "trauma arrival" and then run back to the elevator to warm up until I needed them again.

I canceled my lighting plans, and rolled with the weather, and the staff and crew were great despite the typhoon we were shooting in, and even my assistant pulled double-duty to play our trauma patient after our would be 5yr old model got scared.

The worst of the weather only lasted about 15 minutes, and it just got better from there. By the time the Air Evac crew lifted off at 5pm, it was a beautiful evening with great light. It was a fun shoot for a great organization. I'm looking forward to the book's release, and I'll post details when that gets closer. I just cannot say thank you enough to everyone who contributed last night, especially my residents, and assistant, but it couldn't have happened without the great people at Phi Air Medical.



  1. picture for children's hospital, but you have a adult male as patient. OOPS!

    1. For the record, children's hospitals take teenagers.... model was a teenage male.


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