DOBSON — Camp Med participants Wednesday heard one nurse’s perspective on being a staff flight nurse for AirCare Critical Care Transport.
The annual camp benefits local students interested in the health care profession through Surry Community College’s partnership with Hugh Chatham Hospital in Elkin and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
According to Anne Marie Hardy, coordinator for the annual event, the camp is sponsored through the Wake Forrest School of Medicine Northwest AHEC (Area Health Education Center). Wednesday was the Surry County day for the event with participants set to travel to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital today and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on Friday.
The program is for students in Mount Airy, Elkin, and Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties. The camp is an option to let high school students interested in health care get an idea of the field and about Surry Community College’s health care offerings. Some participants are students in Allied Health Programs in their schools.
Wendy Rash, who serves as staff flight nurse on Wake Forest Baptist Health’s AirCare1 based in Lexington, is a 16-year veteran on the helicopter. She opened her talk by saying the average age of a Camp Med participant is 16 years. She told the group of how she had a specific plan to achieve her goal of being a flight nurse.
Rash said her first step in her plan was getting her associate’s degree in nursing from Surry Community. Rash, who is also a registered nurse, told the group flight nurses work under different procedures than other nurses.
Her first job out of school was in an intensive care unit and for more experience she began working in the emergency room and worked with emergency medical personnel. She told the group her job requires a commitment to all types of certification.
“I love my job but being a flight nurse is different because of where I work, on a medical helicopter,” Rash said. “Flight in a helicopter is inherently dangerous. We take a lot of precautions. Everything we do is for a purpose.” She told the group her uniform, which is a jumpsuit, is flame retardant.
“What I do as a flight nurse is completely different from what they do. I’ve seen things that anyone should never have to see,” added Rash. “I work off of protocols. I can administer certain medicines under certain guidelines and orders but I have to know about the medications. My job as nurse is a lot like an EMS. It’s different than any other job I’ve had. it’s been the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.” She explained that air transport benefits trauma patients because of less time to travel and smoother traveling.
She said being a flight nurse was like “sitting in your bathtub with all your medical equipment around you and trying to work.” Participants next were able to watch as an AirCare helicopter landed in the parking lot. On board were paramedics Tim Black and Josh Booker. Matt Currin is the pilot of the airship. He told the students he was an ex-U.S. Marine Corps pilot from the Raleigh area.
“I enjoy watching them (his fellow team members) and seeing what they do,” said Currin. “The are truly amazing.” Later as the students walked around the helicopter Black told them there are predictable times when medical calls for them increase but no two days are the same.
Persons interested in health car careers can visit the website www.nchealthcareers.com to learn about what jobs are available, expected salary, and job descriptions.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.