The Story of A Flight Nurse

When Orlando Health’s Karen Thurmond, 47, takes to the air, saving lives is the mission.



NORMA LOPEZ MOLINA

 

“We’re a crew of three—a pilot, a paramedic and a flight nurse. We work 24-hour shifts—come in at 7 and leave at 7.’’
 
 “Flight nursing is different than, say, ER, critical care or floor nursing, because we have a tremendous amount of autonomy. It’s just my partner and me out there trying to save somebody’s life.”
 
Orlando Health has three helicopters based at hospitals in Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties to cover a 100-mile radius for trauma calls. Crew members, including Thurmond, who is chief flight nurse, rotate among the locations. Each crew averages about three flights a day, with 60 percent involving response to trauma scenes and the rest being transports between hospitals in the state. 
 
 “When we come in every day, we never know where we’re going to go or who we’re going to meet. We know we may be going to I-75 or maybe [an accident on] a bridge, but we don’t know how many patients. We don’t know if it’s a child or an elderly person. So there’s excitement in not knowing.’’ 
 
 “I started as a clinical tech at the hospital straight out of college. And I saw the flight team and the critical care nurses, and I enjoyed the high adrenaline and the medical services aspect of what the flight team did. So I went to nursing school and made that my goal.’’ Thurmond has been at Orlando Health for 24 years, 18 of them as a flight nurse, 16 as the chief flight nurse. 
 
“You have to be an independent thinker, able to make a decision quickly. People would like to say that it’s a Type A job, but not always. Somebody who can bring in elements of a more passive-type personality may do a little better because they can go into the situation very calmly.”
 
“We have equipment to deal with any emergencies. We have lifesaving interventions to get somebody breathing again, to get their heart started. We have an arsenal of medications for pain. Oftentimes, it’s just putting a pillow under their knees. We try to work with patients to find out what’s best for them.”
 
“We get a lot of patients who are scared. They’re scared because they just wrecked their car. Or they know they’ve injured somebody or they know a family member is gravely injured. We provide a lot of reassurance. If you can tell them what to expect, it helps them out.’’ 
 
“Probably my most memorable mission was a small child who was burned over virtually 100 percent of her body. And I remember her talking to me. And her little voice, very high pitched. She was just so little—and very scared. And she survived. She’s doing very well. She reached out to me and my partner one day, probably when she was in high school. Kind of out of the blue. I’ve used her example many times, because you never give up on anybody. You don’t declare them dead until God says they’re dead.”
Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Premier Realtors

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Wedding Resource Guide

Find the best wedding vendors in Orlando.

Summer Getaways 2015

Summer is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Shattering Myths of Better Business Bureau

2015 Best Lawyers

When you need an attorney, you want someone with a strong reputation and a proven track record. The annual Best Lawyers® list provides the names of Orlando-area attorneys most recommended by their colleagues in the field.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2015

Our annual list featuring 216 of the area’s finest dental professionals.

Dentists Q&As

We selected 4 dentists to weigh in on questions related to dental health.

Guide to Private Schools 2015

Our annual guide to private schools will help you chart an educational course for your family.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Weekend Happenings in Orlando July 3 to 5

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the holiday with our Fourth of July Celebrations Guide!

Weekend Happenings in Orlando June 19 to 21

Find the best events in and around town for the weekend including a Father's Day Sunday guide.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando June 12 to 14

Find the best events in and around the city for the weekend.

2015 Father's Day Gift Guide

Check out local shops Cloak & Dapper, Uncle Tony's Donut Shoppe, and Lure Design Inc. to find the perfect gift for Father's Day. (Video)

Weekend Happenings in Orlando June 5 to 7

Find the best events in and around town for the weekend.
Edit Module