First Responders: Todd Brooks

1.7 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

By Cynthia McFarland

First Responders: Todd Brooks

1.7 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

Sky Angel: Saving Lives in the Air is the Ultimate Game-Changer.

When life hangs in the balance and every second counts, emergency care often arrives via helicopter — a helicopter operated by ShandsCair, the critical care transport system of UF Health Shands Hospital.

ShandsCair assists patients after 9-1-1 calls, as well as those requiring rapid critical care transportation.

Todd Brooks, RN/paramedic, Chief Flight Nurse for ShandsCair, has been on countless of those flights in the last two decades. 

Born in Indiana, Todd has lived in Florida since the age of 5.

Always competitive, he grew up hoping to be a professional baseball player. When his dream of pro ball ended, he channeled his ambition toward emergency medicine.

“I went to EMT school, then became a paramedic. I started on the ambulance for Alachua County Fire Rescue in 1986 and transitioned to the flight team in 2005,” says Todd, whose whole flight career has been with Shands.

Todd, 58, appreciates that there’s nothing “normal” about his job.

Unlike the hospital ICU unit where numerous providers care for multiple patients, the helicopter team typically consists of the pilot, critical care nurse/paramedic and a critical care paramedic.

“And we’re taking them to Shands UF Health in hopes of saving their lives,” Todd says. “At UF Shands, our hospitals accept a lot of very challenging patients, so we get the highest acuity interfacility transfers. For scene calls, we transport anything the scene paramedics feel meets the highest urgency. I think God blessed me with a short memory to save me from all the bad stuff I’ve seen.

“The biggest game I ever played in my high school career was the state playoffs, but the biggest thing you’ll ever do as a paramedic is take care of a patient who is actively dying. Life or death is bigger than the World Series and Superbowl combined,” adds Todd, who taught paramedic school for 15 years and currently flies with some of his past students.

Today, three of Todd’s four grown kids work the medical field. The fourth is a baseball coach, like Todd, who coached baseball at Santa Fe High School in Alachua. Todd is incredibly proud of his children and four grandchildren. 

And Todd is still competitive. He and all four kids enjoyed the adventure of competing as the Brooks family from Alachua on “Family Feud” this March. 

When he’s not tending to patients in an emergency setting, Todd and his wife, Jennifer, an ER nurse Todd refers to as “my rock,” like to exercise together, go boating with their dogs, enjoy family time, and attend ball games, especially Gator baseball.

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