'Father' of CareFlight Air Ambulance dies at 93

Allistair (Al) Dunn helped bring medical helicopter service to region

Allistair Dunn had been associated with the hospital since the 1980’s and was a member of the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. He died Thursday in Dayton.

“There was a very strong group of businessmen who were board members at the time, and Al was one that was just all about making Miami Valley the leader in the region and helped us bring CareFlight to our community,” said Jenny Lewis, the foundation president and chief executive.

Miami Valley Hospital was founded in 1890, and in 1983 the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation became a separate nonprofit organization focused on raising money and awareness for patient programs and services, according to its website.

Lewis recalled the story Dunn told about how he took the proposal for CareFlight to the hospital board in the early ’80s.

“Now what was one helicopter is four,” she said. “I can only imagine the lives that have been saved because CareFlight is in our community.”

Dunn also was on the board when the 100 acres of land where the hospital currently is located was purchased, Lewis said.

Lewis described Dunn as a true gentleman, a great mentor and someone who was always looking for ways to help others overcome challenges.

“He is a true example for all of us to follow — especially because he was such a innovative businessman and was always looking to think outside the box.”

Dunn was born in Wishaw, Scotland, and emigrated to America in 1926 at age 5 with his parents and brother, according to his daughter Carolynn Hellman.

Dunn graduated from the Henry Ford Trade School and worked for Ford Motor Company prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. While serving in the Burma-China-India theater, Dunn flew 128 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice and a presidential citation, according to his family. He was discharged in 1945 as a staff sergeant.

In 1964, Dunn moved to Dayton with his wife and children.

Dunn was aware of the air ambulance program being used by the military during the Korean War, Hellman said. He had also read about studies related to the “golden hour” that showed patients had a higher probability of survival if they could get to a hospital within 60 minutes of an illness or injury.

“He put those two things together,” Hellman said. “His passion was that the air ambulance program could help people survive. His focus was on increasing the probability of survival for so many people if they could get to the hospital fast.”

A memorial service for Dunn will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Miami Valley Hospital chapel on the main campus located at 1 Wyoming Street in Dayton.

The family requests donations be made in Dunn’s name to the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation in lieu of flowers.

“Any of us that knew Al, we are better people for knowing him because he poured himself out into people and into the community,” Lewis said. “And because of him, I think Dayton is a better place.”

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