TagFlight Nursing

crzegrl Guest Speaker? Yup, 2011 Michigan Trauma Symposium

“The Impact of Alcohol on Trauma”

Michigan Trauma Symp LOGO COLOR.jpg

On 24 March I am speaking at the Michigan Trauma Symposium in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Every year, the symposium rotates between the three major cities/trauma centers in West Michigan: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing. A few months ago, our trauma coordinator called the hangar wondering if we had any good case studies to present related to alcohol and trauma. Knowing I am a sucker for such a request, my manager asked if I had any ideas . . .

. . . I said no . . .

As the fickle hand of fate would have it, I was GIVEN a case study about 3 weeks later. Quite honestly, this one is going down as #1 in my medical career of all patient’s I have had the honor of caring for. And then to be able to speak to a crowd of a few hundred people about it? Sorry, BRAG to a few hundred people about how awesome the 50+ people who cared for him in the first 2 hours post injury were?


Chaos and Not Much Order–How to get things done

I must, on an almost hourly basis (or even more frequently!), remind myself that planning my work day is neigh unto impossible. Not only is it impossible, but even after starting on a project or task that being interrupted too many times to count is to be expected.

Take for example a normal shift. Today, I was expecting to arrive at our main base and travel by ground (get in a car and drive for you land lubbers) to our second base after meeting the rest of the crew. Normally, the aircraft is left overnight at our second base and we meet it there.

Today, however, the aircraft was at our primary base. And the weather is crap. (Or IFR for you air lubbers). So, instead of being in a quiet office with space to work and expected interruptions like shift briefings and flight requests, I found myself discombobulated, without quiet work space, and constantly pulled in so many directions I was feeling like rubber girl. (get your mind outta the gutter) Yup, I am working out of our primary base. Read–work plans foiled.

Did I get a lot done? Arguably. Am I straight exhausted from the chaos? Absolutely.

And my presentation is still not getting done. Now I am so overwhelmed I am having difficulty concentrating. Oh, yeah. I was planning on arriving at our second base, doing my daily flight nurse duties and sitting down to about 8 hours of book/computer work.

Heh, even my post is disjointed and chaotic.

How does a girl who has a bunch to do, but works in disorder and chaos get anything done? Heh, and to think I am here to FLY!!! 🙂

I need a nap.

Instead I am going to work on my PowerPoint presentation while hiding on our mezzanine with the intubation heads and stretchers.

peace and quiet

A Flight Nurse’s Dream Product: SwabFlush Receives FDA Clearance

So many times when flying a very ill or injured patient, finding the alcohol swabs is monumentally difficult. As with everything else we do, how incredible when we are able to remove steps from a simple, but essential process.

Hmmm, but what I really wonder about is the cost. And if they can figure out a way to use these things on the absolutely worthless IV tubing that still requires some sort of needle-less whatcha-ma-jig to pierce a membrane.

My solution to part of the healthcare money crisis?



But I digress, as I so often do.

See more on Medgadget.


Excelsior Medical has received FDA clearance for its SwabFlush IV catheter flush syringe. 75hdtg.png

It is basically a standard syringe pre-filled with saline for flushing IV lines after delivering medications. However, in the plunger it features a disinfection cap (the SwabCap) for needleless IV connectors. When applied, the cap covers the connector, protecting it from contamination. Furthermore, as the cap is twisted onto the threads, a foam pad inside the cap is compressed, releasing 70% isopropyl alcohol bathing the connector’s top and threads. The integrated cap should make it easier and more convenient to follow protocols and reduce IV catheter related infections. It comes as a 10mL flush syringe pre-filled with 3 ml, 5 ml or 10mL of saline. Video explaining the SwabCap mechanism:

AirLife Denver lands top global honor

I decided that I need to actually start keeping up and writing more about the HEMS industry.

Marky, I thought about you this morning when I came across the following article. Guess your classmate will have smack to talk when you mention the Duracell commercial . . .

From EMS Flight Crew:

Airlife Denver, the emergency-transport service for HealthOne, was named the top medical flight service in the world for 2010-2011 by the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) . . .

AirLife Denver has served nearly 50,000 patients and their families over 27 years across the eight-state Rocky Mountain region. The program has made investments in such items as night-vision goggles, terrain-awareness warning systems, a better patient loading system, and painting the helicopters and ambulances green and blue for better visibility

[From Airlife Denver lands top global honor]

The Lost Edition: Change of Shift Vol. No.

Once upon a time, an over ambitious blogger had a dream. A goal really. To achieve the blogging version of a hat trick. She did the easy first, calling into the Dr. Anonymous Show. Bragging about doing the blogging trinity. His show, Grand Rounds and Change of Shift.

The show was a riot as usual.

Grand Rounds was a bit late.

Change of Shift?

Volunteering at the last minute was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. It fell near Veterans Day. A day near and dear to my heart as, most of you know, I continue to proudly serve. It came shortly after one of the most horrible tragedies in Army history.

It also fell on my blogging anniversary.

And the edition was almost lost to the depths of my failure.

Almost, but not quite.
As I reread the submissions for the edition, I was struck by the solemn nature of the posts. They were very unlike the majority of posts submitted to me in the past. The bulk submissions were absolutely non-existant. Instead, the posts are thick with introspection, contemplation and raw emotion.

I am confident in saying that this is one of the best collections of Change of Shift ever.

I would like to close with a few personal notes.

Thank you all for your support of not only myself, but all who are serving, and who have served. Sacrificing for the freedoms we all enjoy is much easier when it is done for a grateful nation.

I received permission from one of my dearest friends who served as an Army Medic and who currently serves as a civilian medic in Iraq to post the following, which he wrote.

Img 2226
Unknown “DUSTOFF” soldier
Viet Nam Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C.
photo by E. McGee

. . . to my brothers that are no longer with me, those that still serve and work with me and those that are still in harms way, your forever on my mind.

If I ever

If I ever
heard the sound
stillness in the moment of the news
The silent heart that lays
the quite of the men as I walk

If I ever
felt the warmth leave, the hand that lays
held on tight, nothing I can do to save the warmth
the warmth leaves, coldness comes..

If I ever
had to wash away the tears
clean the faces, clear the pockets
close the eyes

If I ever
witnessed life so true and bright
carried on by others in red white and blue
the eagle flies the heads bow

If I ever
looked into the face of mothers
eyes of warmth and tears
looked in the face of fathers
eyes of warmth and tears

If I ever
had to stand at the side
hands on brass, covered in white
felt the tightness of the tie
the weight of ribbons and names

If I ever
once stood with them
laughed with them
drank with them
sweat with them
cried with them

If I ever
had to look into the face of their children
held their hands
told them stories

If I ever
folded the flag
passed it over
raised my hand high, lowered it once more
held my tears back as I say goodbye

If I ever
walked behind the trees
shed my tears
remembered the faces
remembered their family

If I ever
looked to the sky
prayed for them
talked to them
as that sun fades

If I ever
placed the ribbons around the trees
placed the flags in front of white stones
read the names in rows and rows
found the few names that made me cry

If I ever
walked amongst white crosses
names of past names of present
the the union jack draped head high
surrounded by six
headed by one

if I ever
heard the 21 rounds
in honor of my friend
the drizzle of the rain
the sobbing of mothers

If I ever
could bring them back
take them home
bring them peace
know they are safe

If I ever
could make sure
not another one
goes in vain
but are held in peace and warmth
for everything they gave
for everything they left

If I ever
could open deaf ears
there are men here
they give and gave their lives
so others did not

If I ever
could make sure
the rich paid their debt
took care of their families
gave full honors to their name

If I ever let them forget
it is time for someone to take my place
I am VET

God be with my brothers and sisters
that are already gone before me
those that I knew
those that I never knew

Its time to open deaf ears, all of us together
open up deaf ears
warriors in charge to open up deaf ears
I am a vet

God take care of them If I ever…….

—-Kip Bradley

NTSB HEMS Public Hearing: The Most Dangerous Nursing Job—And I have It

Close of business today brought to an end to the first of four days of public NTSB hearings focusing on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS).

The WSJ lead their story covering the hearings with the following here: (h/t @symtym–his blog here)

WASHINGTON — Emergency medical helicopter pilots had the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., racking up fatalities at a faster clip than loggers and other historically risky professions, according to a new study presented to federal air-crash investigators.

Thirteen crashes, 29 lives lost, all in the 365 days of 2008.

By simple deduction, I, therefore, have the most dangerous job in nursing.


Last year, the small rural ambulance service which served the area my parents live in couldn’t afford to stay in business. Now, if either of them need the advanced skill of a paramedic it will take and ambulance over 15 minutes to reach them.

That, quite simply, scares the shit out of me.

The closest hospital is over 15 minutes away, even with the use of lights and sirens.

That small hospital is over 35 minutes away by ground from the nearest cath lab, or trauma center.

They are nine minutes from the same advanced medical center by air.

The reality, however, is that the community my parents call home is actually very accessible compared to many of the residents of my state. My job is dangerous, and that is a risk I am willing and eager to take as the communities I serve need the advanced medical care we provide.

HEMS is dangerous.

HEMS is, without a doubt, VERY expensive.

But I ask you how much a few more afternoons quilting your mom is worth? What would you pay for few more rounds of golf with your dad?

Those few, precious moments, stolen from fate, are worth risking my life for. I willingly accept those risks because someday, it may be my mother that needs the expertise of a flight nurse. It may be my father I am called to save.

It is my hope that through these hearings, my peers, colleagues and friends will be safer in the air. That 2009 will be the year of Vision Zero.

Img 4341
End of Shift

On search for Vision Zero, I came across this post from Rogue Medic discussing the conclusions Dr. Ira Blumen came to in discussing the danger associated with HEMS.

The conclusions and decisions which will inevitably be handed down in the following weeks will have a direct impact on my professional life. Here is to hoping, in the end, the title of ‘most dangerous job’ goes back to the crab fishermen.

edit: CNN’s Coverage of the hearings here.

Yesterday’s View: Redux

The cold of the great white north, more specifically the snow it brings with it, keeps us grounded more than I care to dwell on. I did more flying yesterday in one shift then in the whole month of January.

I get cranky when I don’t fly.

Img 5399 2
Me savoring the view

Flying keeps my world balanced.

Img 5405
Ice, Dam and Open Water

The pilots will attest to that.

Img 5406
Part of Downtown, edged by the River

Although the view out the window, is mainly rural, each time we land at our hospital, we get a glimpse of the ever changing skyline of our humble, but beautiful city. Downtown is adorned with a river which is part of the area’s identity.

Today’s View: the Murphy(s), Leg Room and Sunsets

Today definitely bordered on Bill Murray’s version of Groundhog Day.

Remember the movie?


Well, after digging out my piles . . .

Img 0577

. . . we were sent after our first patient.

On our way out the ER door, patient on stretcher, I called our fair well over my shoulder.

“Thanks! See you later today guys!”

Marky, my partner for the shift, almost threw the RSI kit at me.

The ER staff started hollering at my slip. That was almost as bad as saying the ‘Q’ word to them.

I chuckled all the way to the helicopter as my crew chastised me. I am easily entertained.

The flight was uneventful, and lunch was waiting on us 3 hours after we originally ordered it. I got into the second bite of my monster sub when—

—Of course—

—the tones went off.

Minutes later, ass planted in my seat, helmet on my head, lifting to go back to the same hospital for another patient, I was still groaning at the non-prank irony.

And the Ground Hog’s Day movie references began.

Murphy (as in ‘Law’ not ‘Bill’) knew I had a lot I wanted to accomplish today. It just wasn’t meant to be. Apparently my pilot for the day was recently jinxed with being a mission magnet so we kept flying.

Img 5384 2
Mark and the View from our Office Window

I can’t remember the last time I did three flights in one shift. Yeah Mark Thomas, I know, three flights aren’t much when you hot load cheap scenes in So. Cal. but the our first two patient pick ups were to a hospital 25 flight minutes away. Yup, ONE way. The third mission was to a hospital 45 minutes away.

That makes a three flight 12 hour shift long. And I loved every minute of this 13.5 hour day.

Shifts like this are so much better when you have an awesome crew.

As well as the chance to stretch your legs.

Img 5403
Leg Room? Yup!

And views so incredible, they always leave you in awe.

Img 5411
February Sunset

Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and we are doomed to 6 more weeks of winter, I think I can deal with it.

And I promise I won’t fly angry!