AJN On the Cover
"Flight nurses are some of the most resourceful people I've met," says Maine-based photographer Jason Smith, whose photographs appear here and on our cover. "The ability they have to make incredibly difficult decisions in incredibly difficult conditions is a quality not many possess."
Smith teamed up with LifeFlight of Maine, a state-wide nonprofit medical helicopter service that transports critically ill and injured patients, to photograph flight nurses in action during a 12-hour shift on December 17, 2010. The cover photo shows flight nurse Stephen Babin (center) and flight paramedic Pete Allen (left) attending to an elderly patient from the Sugarloaf Mountain region who had cardiac complaints, and who coded in flight and had to be intubated while in the helicopter. "It was not an easy feat in those conditions," recalls Smith, "but the experienced military pilot, the flight nurse, and the paramedic were unflustered and provided great care for the patient."
Patients who require air transport can include trauma victims, organ transplantation recipients, patients with cardiac conditions, neonates, and the elderly, to name a few. Much of the job depends on the weather, and a snowstorm later on the day of the photo shoot grounded the helicopter. As a result, an elderly woman who would have been airlifted had to be taken by ambulance through the storm. In the photograph at left, Babin monitors her vital signs in the back of the ambulance while heading to the hospital.
Smith, who does photography for magazines, commercials, and weddings, says, "I really enjoy what I do, and I love the diversity of the places I work and the interesting people I meet. I can be in a helicopter one day and on a boat with whale scientists the next."
For more information on flight nurses, go to the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association Web site at www.astna.org.—Alison Bulman, senior editorial coordinator