CALSTAR was a new company when I joined in 1987 and didn't have much money to pay staff. At the time my husband and I lived pretty simply, so the money was not an issue. As soon as I discovered flight emergency nursing, I just knew that it was a job that I would love. Like working in an emergency room, you have to think quickly and on your feet and I have always thrived on working with critically ill patients. The work was intellectually challenging and fast paced. To me this was nirvana.
Can you explain what a trauma junkie is ?
"Trauma junkie" is just a phrase we used to describe ourselves. It really describes the adrenaline rush from working under stress. Trauma junkies are professionals who enjoy working with trauma patients - the sicker the better. The work is fast-paced, challenging, and requires using all of our experience and education. There is little time to get bored and rapid and accurate intervention can really make a difference.
As a flight emergency nurse, you had to deal with the death of patients on a regular basis. You write that "Western medicine can't seem to accept death." What do you mean ?
Death is so terrifying to all of us that we are willing to do almost anything to cheat it. I devoted a whole chapter in my book to express my dismay at this attitude and to make people aware of what really goes on in those final stages. Ultimately, the outcome, despite our best efforts, is always the same. I'm not saying that we shouldn't do all we can to help people. I am saying that when a human being is terminally ill or has no quality of life, we might serve the patient's best interests by more or less leaving him alone rather than making a bad situation worse.
Is being a flight emergency nurse a dangerous job ?
Because we're working in essentially unsecure areas, safety is always paramount. The most hazardous parts of the job are probably high tension wires. Other hazard factors are "tight" landing Zones, weather, uncontrolled crowd scenes in the landing area and landing on dusty ground that might create a "brown out."