My First Medevac!!!!

I got a call around 2:30 this morning to come in for a medevac. It was for preterm labor in an outlying village. I got up, gathered my things, drove to the hospital. Checked again with the doctors to make sure it’s ok that I go on the medevac. And again it strikes me, *I am it; I am the doctor now.* (!!!!) We gathered the medical kits from the hospital, and then the paramedics got their life-saving equipment from the airport. The team was made of two flight paramedics, an OB nurse, me and the pilot. We flew out to the village in the dark on the King Air.

King air medevac

The King Air, after sunrise in Anchorage


There was a full moon out, that we could occasionally see through the clouds, reflecting on the Bering Sea, so beautiful! It occurred to me that I’ve never flown in small plane in the dark before. Only in the day, or big jets at night. I started feeling a little nauseated, but the paramedic gave some alcohol swabs to sniff, and it worked!

We arrived at the village around 4:30, and the pt was still have faint (but diminished) signs of preterm labor. Even though I didn’t think she was really in active labor, after talking about it with my colleagues who have been here heaps longer, we decided that instead of going to Nome, it would be best to go to Anchorage. Since we can’t do much for pre-term labor in Nome. Plus there was a recent preterm delivery where the baby wasn’t doing well, so we are extra erring on the side of caution. It’s really, really good for me to learn these things.

I had some great conversations with the awesome paramedics. One of them has been working here for 30 years, and he and his wife also went to Papua New Guinea!!! Out to New Ireland. I love the people here! 🙂

We got to Anchorage ~ 2 hours later, into a strong headwind that made for some turbulent skies! It was lovely to see the daybreaking over Anchorage. We landed and then got picked up by ambulance, which took the patient and us to the hospital. If I thought the hospital in Nome was kind of a museum, Anchorage Native Medical Center (ANMC) really is a museum!


ANMC mural

They had hundreds of dolls and figures featuring native dress from all over the state of Alaska:dancer

Waterproof bags made from stomach and bladder and heart-lining:waterproof bags

Fish skin baskets: fish skin basket



We then got to go eat breakfast and do a few errands around town. If there is time, it is nice for the team to be able to pick up a few things while in Anchorage (ie. Donuts and McDonalds for the crews back home, and cheaper fruits/veggies and flowers).

Then we were off again. This time, because my stomach was still feeling queasy (I’m such a wuss! :)), I got to sit in the front! medevac with an awesome pilot, who has been flying here for 15 years, and has been a pilot for 22 years. It was so much fun to talk with him and hear his stories. He has a little plane that he takes his family out to cool camping spots and the hot springs around here. He pointed out the active volcano, Mt Redoubt, that blew off ash a few years ago. WE got back to Nome, and I went straight to radio traffic. Since I had gone in at 6:30 yesterday am (for the delivery), and I had been home ~ 4 hours before being called in for this one, I was tired! early night tonight!

3 thoughts on “My First Medevac!!!!

  1. I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am a travel nurse that will be coming to Nome in July for the flight team. Very excited and very nervous. Any tips or suggestions for when I get there and what to pack? I will only be there 13 weeks!

    • Oh my goodness! I just saw this comment again (thank you btw!)–I thought I replied to it, but maybe it was a different (similar) one. Are you here yet? 🙂 Anyway, I think for travel nursing, most things as far as the bigger living needs are covered (furnished house, with dishes, bedding…etc). Bring enough clothing to cover warm to cold days, something for rain, something for near freezing. If you like to swim, there is a pool at the high school and you can swim in the 55 degree Bering Sea, work out clothes, toiletries (just basics, and anything you need, you can buy here in Nome), obviously things like your computer with music, videos (although there is heaps to do outside here!), maybe a couple of smaller, easy-to-transport hobbies (i.e. if you like crafting, playing music, photography, a kindle for reading…etc). Also, I think most travelers end up spending a little money on some of the local native arts/crafts/carvings/jewelry. There are ATVs and vehicles to rent–it’s great to get out of town and out on the roads/tundra. There are quite a few restaurants, bars, the movie theater, art stores, the rec center (that I believe all employees get a free (or maybe discounted) pass to, where you can do yoga, Latin dance, play sports, work out…etc). There is the local University of Alaska college that often has classes for the semester like creating pottery, bird-watching, sewing, and other fun community things. There are potential things like boating on the Sea or the rivers, canoeing, kayaking, chartering a private flight (small airplane or helicopter…if you have the money for it), or a trip out to one of the villages, driving out to the hot springs and just to see the wildlife. If there are certain things you need/want, often you can find them on Nome Announce, the community bulletin board/Craig’s list. And by making friends here, which is easy to do, you will get to do even more. People are really sharing and caring around here. 🙂 Keep an eye/ear out for not-infrequent community events, like Eskimo dancing, cultural shows, fund-raisers, music/talent shows…etc. There are always free, walkable activities, like beach combing, where people find all sorts of treasures from sea glass to ivory tusks, to old relics and washed up trinkets. Some people collect qiviut (shed musk ox hair that is fine) and wash it, spin it and knit it into cashmere-like scarves. Bring clothing gear for any outdoor activity you like–hiking, jogging, exploring. also, a lot of the travelers and locals go out and have fun together. In any case, there will be no lack of possible things to do. 🙂

  2. For medical stuff, know ATLS, ACLS, PALS, NRP, airway management, equipment…etc. Have good apps and good resources. It’s all less scary when you know your stuff! And I still get nervous every day I’m on call. 🙂

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