At work while in her early 20s, Inger Lisa Skroder, MSN, ARNP, asked a coworker a question that changed her life.
I asked him what hed done over the weekend, and he said he went to England.
Intrigued by the answer, Skroder, whod recently moved from Vancouver to South Florida to work as a nurse, prompted him for more information. He explained that he, himself a healthcare professional, was assisting on an air transport.
The next day Skroder called his company, set up a job interview and in no time found herself flying medical missions around the world.
Ive just loved it, she says.
That passion has become Skroders life work. In the past 20 years, Skroder has parlayed her passion to become a leader in South Floridas fixed-wing ambulance industry. Incorporated by Skroder in 1999 and based in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Trinity Air Ambulance International not only holds the regions best safety record, according to Skroder, but is the only such firm owned and operated by a nurse. The company is co-managed by Skroders brothers, Lars Skroder and Tor Skroder, who also is a nurse. With 12 full-time employees, 40 on-call staff members including several part-time and per diem nurses and two planes. Trinity never has been involved in an accident or had an on-board death and touts the fastest response time among its competitors.
We set the bar for the companies working alongside us, Skroder says. Ive always thought, Who better to own (an air-ambulance company) than someone in medicine?
The success Skroder has seen has not come easy. For nearly four years after incorporating Trinity, she worked three jobs to generate operating expenses and save for future growth.
One of her positions during that time was with American Airlines as the firms first in-house advanced practice nurse. At American, Skroder worked alongside company physicians in the employee health department providing occupational therapy to employees with on-the-job injuries.
In the wake of 9/11, Skroder lost her job with the airline, which, she says, was a blessing in disguise.
It really made me concentrate on Trinity, says Skroder, who began to win bids for organ transport from some of the regions main medical centers.
To grow the business further, the business partners didnt take salaries. The funds were funneled into the purchase of Trinitys fleet instead. The first craft was purchased in 2004 and the second in 2009.
To date, we do not have what most people would consider the appropriate salary for the work we do, Skroder says. Basically everything has gone back into the business.
The payoff comes in the form of doing something she always dreamed.
As a kid being raised on a Canadian farm with cows, chickens and pigs, she loved to watch shows like M.A.S.H. I would think that looked cool or exciting.
Skroder couldnt have envisioned a more exhilarating career. Trinity aircraft operate mainly within the Caribbean but have traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Manila, Philippines and Barcelona, Spain; and have special permission to fly to mainland Cuba. She has helped save patients from earthquakes, accidents and even shark bites.
We can usually be airborne faster than anyone in South Florida 55 to 60 minutes compared to 90 minutes to three hours maybe its because were the owners and also the healthcare providers so we understand the urgency.
Skroders innovation in combining aviation with medicine has garnered attention beyond the medical institutions. Last September she was asked by the governor of Turks and Caicos a small country in the lower chain of the Bahamas to act as the countrys medical liaison and serve as the exclusive provider of air ambulance services.