Monse Ramos feels a great deal of pride every time he sees a Memorial Hermann Life Flight® helicopter flying across the Houston skies. “Sometimes I’ll tell my grandkids or my kids, ‘do you see that helicopter flying up there? I had my hands on that one just yesterday.’”
Ramos is part of the maintenance team for Life Flight. The group of nine is responsible for inspecting and servicing each of the six Life Flight helicopters daily. It’s a big job considering Life Flight is the busiest air ambulance service in the United States, performing more than 3,000 missions each year.
Ramos hasn’t always worked on helicopters; when he first walked on to the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC) Campus nearly 20 years ago he came with a paint brush in his hand. “I was a contract worker. I was going to do some painting at Memorial Hermann-TMC but it was just a two-week contract so I figured I’d be in and out pretty fast and on to the next project,” said Ramos. The two-week contract ended up being closer to nine months and by the end of the contract, Ramos was offered a full-time position with Memorial Hermann.
For the next six years, Ramos worked as a painter for Memorial Hermann. He painted his way through Cullen Pavilion, Jones Pavilion and just about everywhere on the Memorial Hermann-TMC Campus that needed a fresh coat of paint or maybe just a little touch up. Ramos loved his job and always tried to go the extra mile whether it was fixing minor issues he encountered during the painting projects or trying to bring a smile to those around him. “We were taught a lot about customer service so I was always talking with people and trying to be friendly when I was on the job,” said Ramos.
Discovering a Talent for Engineering
Ramos wasn’t just good at painting; he was also good with his hands. “It seemed like I was always working on something else while I was painting. I liked trying to figure things out and learning new things,” said Ramos. “Someone suggested to me one time that I should get a job in the engineering department at Memorial Hermann-TMC and that’s what I did.”
Ramos spent about nine years in engineering working on everything from air conditioning to carpentry, picking up more and more knowledge every step of the way. That customer service and attention to detail caught the eye of Eric von Wenckstern, administrative director of Memorial Hermann Life Flight. “I used to see Monse in the hallways and he was always working hard, always had a smile on his face.” Von Wenckstern thought Ramos would be a good addition to the Life Flight team.
Life Flight has five bases that serve the 150-mile radius covered by the air ambulance service. At each of those sites there are often general maintenance issues that arise unrelated to the maintenance of the helicopters that would require the helicopter mechanics to fix. “It might be something like a broken toilet or some painting or running out to get parts the mechanics needed,” said von Wenckstern. “We were given the opportunity to hire someone to do general maintenance which would free up our mechanics to work exclusively on the helicopters. I immediately thought of Monse for the job.”
In 2014, Ramos left his position in engineering and went to work with the Life Flight team. It didn’t take long for Ramos to get noticed by his new colleagues. “He went right to work painting the walls, the floors. He took all of our machinery, metal presses and sanded them all down and made them look like new. He really shined up the place and helped to bring the place to life,” said von Wenckstern. “I asked him one day if he wanted to become a helicopter mechanic and he said, ‘yes sir.’”
For the next three years Ramos worked alongside the mechanics learning everything he could about the helicopters. “He’s always been self-motivated and very determined,” said von Wenckstern.
Becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Technician
After more than three years, logging thousands of hours learning alongside Life Flight helicopter mechanics, Ramos earned his Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) becoming an aircraft maintenance technician this past October.
The A&P certification is a comprehensive program covering everything from a hot air balloon to a wide body jumbo jet. An airframe rating allows a technician to maintain and repair all systems associated with the airframe of the aircraft while a powerplant rating includes the engines and all associated equipment. Some individuals choose to be certified in one or the other, in the case of Ramos, he’s certified in both.
Ramos is proud to be an aircraft maintenance technician and is grateful to his colleagues with Life Flight who supported him throughout the licensing process. “All of our mechanics worked closely with Monse to make sure he learned all that he needed to learn,” said von Wenckstern. “He would make tapes and listen to them over and over so he could learn the material. We’re all very proud of him.”
“I take a great deal of pride in the work I do. Our pilots and flight crews are all depending on us to help them do their jobs every day,” said Ramos. “They’re saving lives, and in a way, I feel like I’m playing a part in saving lives. I love what I do.”
Visit our careers website to join Memorial Hermann’s team.