Colin T. Son, MD


November 11, 2009

A career in medicine is often referred to as a "calling." Perhaps it's appropriate to say, then, that Emily McGee, aka crzegrl, felt destined to be a flight nurse.

In her blog, Reflections of a Flight Nurse, Paramedic, Skydiver, and Army Reserve Commander, Emily describes her journey from Army medic to civilian flight nurse:

One day in 1998, I called my mom, as I still do, the morning after my first bad flight as a Medic in the U.S. Army. The training accident made the Associated Press ticker and the front page of at least two papers as far away as Florida and Michigan.

At the time I didn't realize that was the classic response for a heart no longer controlled by the brainstem. His brain herniated. The young soldier died right in front of me and there was nothing I could do.

I will never forget that afternoon as long as I live.

"Emily, you need to never do anything else with your life," was my mother's response. At 24 years old, I understood to my soul that she was right.

Seven years passed between my last mission as a flight medic and my first mission as a flight nurse. Never once during those intervening years did I lose track of what mom said to me that morning. Never once did I forget that soldier, my first patient.

There has always been something about the air that has attracted Emily; she says she gets cranky when she doesn't fly. She spends her working days in it, and in her off-time she skydives.

Crzegrl hosts Grand Rounds
on November 10, 2009.

"Transport medicine" is a niche career, one that only a few patients can truly appreciate. And that's a good thing.

Today was quiet as work goes. Bad for us, but as my friend reminds me when I complain about slow days -- it is good for those who aren't so sick or injured that they need our services.

If you're in need of a flight nurse, you're probably in an acute situation. Flight teams exist largely to attend to critical situations in a hurry, such as a severe injury sustained in the backcountry or an organ that needs to get to a transplant patient. Sometimes it's a critically ill patient who needs extremely specialized care that is only available hundreds of miles away.

Emily has never been shy about sharing herself with the public. Lending her face to a profession makes her posts about flight nursing all the more real. Recently, her blog has gotten even more personal as her mother battles breast cancer, detailed in the post I Am Sick of Pink:

I am sick of pink.
Pink runs, pink toothpaste packages, pink yogurt.
I am sick of pink articles, pink signs, pink nail polish.
Every time I see pink it reminds me that my mom has cancer.

In June, she helped raise money for breast cancer research by soliciting donations for the skydiving marathon Save the Tatas.

This week, Crzegrl plays host to Grand Rounds, the weekly best of the medical blogosphere, featuring the collected posts of dozens of physicians, nurses, patients, and others.


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