Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award

Date: October 26, 2017
Contact: Dent Thompson
dthompson@phoenixair.wpengine.com
770-387-2999, ext. 106

Cartersville, GA – Phoenix Air Group, Inc., headquartered at the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport, has been named the U.S. Department of State’s recipient of its 2017 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s citation reads “In recognition of exceptional customer commitment and innovation while providing the Bureau of Medical Services, Directorate of Operational Medicine with outstanding aviation services in complex and challenging environments.”

The U.S. Government considers any company with less than 1,500 employees as a Small Business.  Phoenix Air currently has 220 employees and has been a prime contractor for the State Department since August 2014.  This is the company’s first time receiving a nationally-recognized award for its work for the U.S. Government.

“Although we have held contracts with many U.S. Government departments and agencies over the past two decades, this is the first time we have been singled out for a top national award among the thousands of small businesses that have contracts with the government,” stated Dent Thompson, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Phoenix Air.  “It all goes back to the Ebola crisis in Western Africa in July of 2014 when the State Department’s Office of Operational Medicine approached us to transport several American doctors and nurses who were near death with Ebola virus disease from Africa back to the United States for advanced treatment.”

“We had several years earlier developed an airborne contagious disease bio-containment system we could install in our Gulfstream jets, enabling for the first time highly contagious patients with any type of disease to be safely transported long distances while protecting the medical crew and pilots onboard the aircraft from the disease,” Thompson explained.

The State Department immediately placed Phoenix Air under a contract and between August 2014 and May 2015 Phoenix Air made over 40 flights from Western Africa to specialty treatment hospitals in Europe and the United States, saving many lives and giving medical professionals working in Africa assurance of a “lifeboat” home for treatment should they contract a deadly disease.

After the Ebola epidemic was brought under control, the State Department expanded Phoenix Air’s contracted role to include international fast response air ambulance services from full-time bases the company operates in Cartersville, GA, as well as Western and Eastern Africa.  Each of the three bases includes a specially modified Gulfstream medevac jet with pilots and medical crewmembers on call 24/7 to assist U.S. Government employees who are sick or injured in some of the most inhospitable places on earth.  “It’s not unusual for our teams to fly into countries like Niger, Central African Republic, South Sudan or Somalia to pick up Americans working there under some harsh and dangerous conditions,” stated Dr. Michael Flueckiger, Phoenix Air’s Medical Director.

In June of this year, Dr. Flueckiger volunteered for a very sensitive State Department mission – to fly into Pyongyang, North Korea on a Phoenix Air medical jet and remain overnight or longer to advocate for the release of college student Otto Warmbier.  Warmbier was arrested while vacationing in North Korea in March 2016 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.  Shortly after his incarceration in a notorious Pyongyang prison, he fell into a non-responsive coma for unknown reasons.

Dr. Flueckiger and two U.S. State Department officials landed in Pyongyang on a Phoenix Air medical jet and remained there while the jet flew back to Japan to wait on their report.  The trio met several times with a North Korean government medical committee and later the government court which convicted Warmbier 15 months earlier.  They secured his release.  After being taken onto the Phoenix Air medevac jet at Pyongyang Airport later that day, Warmbier was flown back to Ohio to his family where he died a week later.

Phoenix Air’s dedicated employees continue to serve the U.S. Government and American citizens around the world under its State Department contract.  “All of our employees are highly dedicated to the important work we have been given, and each day certainly brings new and complex challenges for all of us,” explained Mark Thompson, President of Phoenix Air.  “It’s not only our employees, but their family members back home and our colleagues in the government supporting the complex missions we undertake.”

It’s for this type of work over the past three years that Phoenix Air was named the recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award.