Dominik Ochmanek: FW First Officer
April 20, 2017
20 April, 2017
Meet Dominik Ochmanek, a Pilatus PC12 Frist Officer who works out of Ornge's 7796 Base, in Timmins, Ontario.
We spoke to Dominik about his role at Ornge, the education and training he completed to support his career and discussed what happens on a typical day as an Ornge PC12 First Officer.
Rachel: When did you start working at Ornge?
Dominik Ochmanek: I started working at Ornge in September 2016.
What is your current role with Ornge?
I’m a First Officer on the Pilatus PC12 fixed-wing aircraft.
Can you tell me a bit about you education and what you studied or how you prepared for this role?
Certainly. I attended the University of Western Ontario’s Commercial Aviation Management Program in 2010 and graduated with a Bachelor of Management of Organizational Studies with a specialization of Commercial Aviation Management. This allowed me to get a management degree and pilot licenses at the same time.
Organizations like Ornge are looking not only looking for flying experience but also for post-secondary educations, degrees and skills that you can use to contribute to the organization.
What made you want to go into aviation?
Well I don’t come from a family of aviators, however ever since I was two years old my mother sent me alone on airplane bound for Poland every summer. After that some of the best memories I have is playing with airplane models, and pointing at every airplane that flew past.
Growing up I just always felt like aviation was a great fit for me never looked back.
How old were you when you took your first training flight?
I was eighteen and my first training flight was on September 14, 2010. That flight was on a DA20 at the Diamond Flight Centre in London as part of the Commercial Aviation Program at Western. It felt great to finally start something I was passionate about and I was definitely hooked for life.
What made you decide to work for an organization like Ornge?
The work at Ornge presents a unique challenge and opportunity to do what you love while helping people who really need it at the same time, which is exciting and applies to both Pilots and Medics on our team. This passion is what caught my eye when I visited the Ornge base in London, ON for the first time. Since then I’ve followed the company closely and always felt like it would great to be a part of the dedicated team that provides fast, safe and life saving services for the province. Merging the disciplines of Aviation and Medicine is not easy and makes the flying we do challenging and never the same thing every day, but that also brings a heightened sense of fulfillment to the job.
What happen on a typical day for you?
Ornge Pilots work on a four day on and four day off schedule, although the amount of day and night shifts we do in a row depends on each individual base. Each shift is twelve hours long and can typically go into overtime due to the nature of medevac operations. On a typical day, I report into duty a bit before shift start to relieve the previous crew and get a head start on our pre-flight checks. More often than not the phone rings shortly after shift start and the pilots are weather checking a call to see if it is safe to accept the mission. In the event we do accept the trip the medics receive patient details while the Captain and myself ready the plane to be airborne within about fifteen minutes. Since we do our walk-around prior to shift, the aircraft is ready to go however flight planning, flight following and coordinating with the Operations Control Centre is what we are typically busy with just before start-up.
We stay predominately within Ontario, however sometimes we have destinations out of province like Winnipeg or in the United States. We never know where we are going until shortly before we go. We continue our shift flying around the province, transporting critically ill patients or deadheading back to base. We average approximately two to three calls a shift but that can vary. You get to know your crew pretty well during your shift as you work in close quarters, so make sure you’re a good storyteller or at least a good listener.
Is there anything you think the public should know about your role?
One of the first comments I get as an Ornge pilot is “oh so you fly helicopters?” I guess what is important for the public to know is that Ontario is very big province and if it weren’t for the fast and efficient PC12 fleet many communities would be out of reach. Ornge operates eight Pilatus aircraft that serve the whole province. Additionally, as a pilot you do not need a medical background. Although we are a aeromedical company, it’s important to keep the two disciplines separate. Medics are in charge of patient care while pilots are in charge of getting to where patients need to go safely and efficiently.
So tell me a bit more about the team of people you work with.
I was anxious to move to Timmins from Toronto and get settled in a place where I had no contacts. My colleagues in Timmins have been really supportive in helping me getting settled in the city and it means a lot. That’s actually one thing that appeals to me most about this job and I can’t begin to convey just how great the people are in the organization and especially here in Timmins. From the time I got hired and went through the orientation, to now where I’ve had a chance to visit the other bases, everyone has been super kind. What strikes me the most is the dedication that our staff have to their jobs. Whether its pilots, paramedics or base managers; everyone’s a team player.
So what do you do in your spare time to relax?
Well I’m currently in training to become a volunteer firefighter in Timmins; it takes up a lot of my spare time but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. To relax I like to run, attend the gym, do yoga and play guitar. Timmins is known for its outdoors so I also try and get out to explore new places as much as I can.
So do you have any advice for future pilots?
Don’t become complacent! Set career goals and work hard to reach them. When you do get into an organization that you love, make it a point to contribute to it. Flying the plane is one thing but getting involved in the industry can make your job a lot more rewarding. Also, make sure your personal life compliments your career choice. We all have ways to relieve stress, make sure you keep people and things in your life that make you happy because it’ll be reflected through your performance at work.
At Ornge, our staff work every day around the clock to ensure the patients of Ontario receive the best care available. Learn more about the people behind #teamornge.