Spotlight: PCC Business Partners – LifeLine Ambulance

Pam Sornson, JD

LifeLine Ambulance: Extraordinary Service in Extraordinary Times

By Pam Sornson, JD

As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and the child of parents who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1979, young Maxim Gorin had no idea how his future would unfold. When the economic crash of post-9/11 paused his financial service career, Maxim, like his grandparents and parents before him, needed to figure out his next move. Finding a way to give back to their community became his family’s new goal. Father and son found an excellent opportunity to fulfill that desire when they embraced their entrepreneurial spirit by buying two ambulances that launched LifeLine Ambulance (LifeLine) in 2002. Maxim Gorin hasn’t pondered his future since.

In fact, their forward-thinking ability has facilitated the growth of their business from 2002 to today. Since its inception, Lifeline has grown from two vehicles and seven workers to 70+ ambulances and 290 employees. All of them are dedicated healthcare professionals invested in providing the highest quality care to their transport customers. Added service levels and capacities reflect the company’s ongoing attention to customer needs and community demands. And innovation in the face of adversity demonstrates Gorin’s deep dedication to providing unprecedented protection for his customers and team.

 

Early Years; Learning Curves

Gorin and Lifeline spent their first decade in business in the San Gabriel Valley (SGV), providing essential ambulance services to the region’s many hospitals and clinics. In addition to ensuring that he hired the most highly skilled EMTs and other healthcare personnel for each rig, Gorin also studied the ins-and-outs of the SGV, managed the day-to-day operations, and scheduled activities to respond to more urgent demands.

Those lessons facilitated the company’s growth. Over the next few years, Lifeline added transfer services that were more in line with client hospitals’ needs. LifeLine provides BariatricNeonatal/Pediatric Intensive Care, and Critical Care transportation, including Balloon pump, Impella, ECMO, and LVADS( Left Ventricle Assisted Devices). Each urgent service iteration required additional in-depth training of the Lifeline Ambulance staff, requiring Gorin to upgrade his certifications, expertise, and mandated skill sets. The fundamental challenge was to provide intensive, comprehensive services to ensure patient care continuity through emergency transportation.

By the end of 2019, Lifeline had expanded to cover both Los Angeles and Orange County, with contracts to serve several regional hospitals, dozens of urgent care clinics, and healthcare service providers. Gorin had learned to pivot toward filling the community’s demand for ambulance services by maintaining a vigilant eye on emerging concerns and issues. The company was ‘on a roll’ …

 

COVID Challenges Up the Ante

… and the timing couldn’t have been better. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept over LA, more people required ambulance transport, and LifeLine was available to accommodate many of those additional needs. At the same time, as more information about the virus became available, Gorin’s dedication to keeping his people and rigs safe and sanitized facilitated his capacity to meet the rising demand to protect and transport COVID patients:

When sanitizing supplies ran low, he developed a new business plan to manufacture them with an Australian Company in China.

When the first shipment of those supplies arrived in June, he was able to keep his enterprise protected while donating excess supplies to hospitals and police departments throughout the LA/OC region.

He also began a bartering system with other healthcare services providers, trading his sanitizing products for other PPE necessities like hospital gowns, gloves, etc., keeping his employees, colleagues, and community safe.

Sharing Knowledge and Service

By Summer 2020, Gorin was actively sharing with the SGV community what he had learned from LifeLine’s COVID-19 crisis management and his 20 years of providing exceptional urgent health care to medically fragile patients. Shortly after joining the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP), Max was soon sitting on its Board of Directors, though not fully realizing the value of joining the organization; he was about to become closely engaged with PCC.

 

Looking for Workers; Finding a Partner

The second half of 2020 was exceedingly difficult, as the COVID pandemic swept through Southern California in wave after wave. Gorin needed 50-60 new team members to fill the increased demand for critical ambulance transportation services. The challenge was to identify specially trained workers who had the skill set and understood the nuances of working in a mobile, COVID-impacted setting. His introduction to PCC’s Health Sciences division proved advantageous for both parties.

 

Sharing Assets Improves Both Operations

PCC’s Emergency Medical Technology program is designed specifically to train ambulance service technicians to work as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on fire trucks, at police departments, and of course, in an emergency vehicle setting. Successful students must meet the requirements of California’s Code of Regulations for EMT training and receive an Occupational Skills Certificate upon graduation. Gorin is interested in immediately hiring PCC EMT graduates and possibly contributing to their education.

Throughout late summer 2020 and into the fall, he collaborated with Dr. Micah Young, PCC’s Division Dean of Health Sciences, and his staff about building a partnership, that would benefit both LifeLine and PCC’s EMT candidates.

Dr. Young offered classroom and academic resources tailored to Gorin’s specific ambulance rig needs. Gorin found the existing PCC curricula excellent when provided with the necessary context only developed through hands-on experience.

Mr. Gorin provided a variety of learning options, all of which enhance the education received by PCC students:

He was willing to provide a ‘ride-along’ to interested PCC students so they could witness ambulances in full operation and gain the skills needed to perform this job. Each Ride-Along Candidate receives hands-on practice in essential emergency medical response:

Perform an assessment;

Measure vital signs;

Operate gurney in general, and related to specific patient’s needs;

Create accurate and informed reports

Use appropriate bedside manner when dealing with any patient that could be facing life-threatening circumstances.

He introduced students to Emergency Room personnel with whom his staff interacted daily, so they could see the nexus of care as it transitioned from ambulatory to clinical.

Gorin devised his partnership aspect to ensure the students receive the full 36 hours (three twelve-hour shifts) of EMT ambulance experience required for certification purposes by the California Code of Regulations.

He and his staff embrace the opportunity (when available) to discuss with candidates the myriad of career options within the healthcare field and how their fundamental EMT training offers a solid foundation for building future careers.

Between them, PCC and LifeLine developed an agreement that gave PCC students exceptional insights into the healthcare field as they worked towards their EMT certification and future occupations. It also allowed Gorin and LifeLine to develop a ‘talent pipeline’ of well-trained, experienced EMTs who would be ready to work the day they graduate. Gorin and his professional staff act as mentors to the learners, offering insights and encouragement, even as they study for exams. Gorin knows that many will not become LifeLine employees as they explore other healthcare career options discovered while in his tutelage.

The first Ride-Along cohort group launched in November with15 student candidates, and by December’ the group had increased to 20 new candidates. By all accounts, the endeavors were successful, although Gorin thinks if he gets five EMTs out of the lot, he’ll be lucky. Once their minds are opened to the possibilities, the PCC candidates are soon looking at other healthcare occupations that may better suit their skills and abilities.

 

Max Gorin couldn’t imagine his future as he immigrated to the United States so many years ago. However, as a successful businessman, dedicated community member, and American citizen, he is proud of the opportunities he has gained and the opportunities that LifeLine Ambulance can now offer to the LA/OC region’s EMT students at PCC. Extraordinary times, indeed.

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