LAHS Senior Elizabeth Dimick sits in the helicopter while members of the Air Methods Life Flight crew, left, Challen Clarke, Jennife Valdez and Ashley Lobsinger answer questions from students in Becca Jones Life Smarts class. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos High School students in Rebecca Jones Life Smarts class were able to learn firsthand about careers in emergency medical services as staff from Air Methods Life Flight landed (literally) on the practice field at the high school.
Students watched as the medical helicopter landed on the field with a crew consisting of the pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. The class was able to view the confined space in which the crew had to work, as well as the equipment used in saving a life. They also saw the helmets and night goggles that are part of the crew’s required gear. Students were invited to climb in the helicopter, sitting not only in the pilot’s seat, but the space where the nurse and paramedic sit behind the pilot and the patient.
Challen Clarke, RN, BSN, currently based out of Santa Fe, met with students in the classroom before the helicopter landing to talk about her experience as a flight nurse. She also touched on the education and skills needed to pursue a career as a flight nurse, as well as some of the benefits of the job (work schedule) and health concerns (hearing loss, stress).
She explained that the crew includes a pilot, nurse and paramedic and how they work together to treat and transport a patient. Most scenarios involving a life flight are car accidents, but sometimes it is necessary to transport heart attack victims and other medical emergencies requiring care in a medical facility equipped to handle specific emergencies. Clarke noted that the job is challenging because it requires working in a small space in the air. “Dealing with elements outside of your control makes the job challenging,” she said.
The life flight crew, based out of Taos, included Ashley Lobsinger, paramedic; Jennifer Valdez, flight nurse and pilot James Cain. They answered questions about working in the air and what skills are needed to pursue a career in emergency medical services.
“I am seriously considering some kind of medical career, possibly emergency medical services, so the Life Flight presentation was a great opportunity for me to learn more and ask questions about the profession,” LAHS junior Alyssa Parker said. “It gave me a better idea of the knowledge and skills needed and the kind of environment they work in. Having a face-to-face visit with the flight nurses and the paramedic left an impression on me and made me really excited to start working towards my own possible future career in the medical field.”
Jones and her husband have known Clarke for several years which made the invitation easy after a number of students expressed an interest in emergency medical services.
“The students have all told me how excited they were to talk to people in this profession, see the helicopter and get to really check it out,” Jones said.
The Life Smarts class educates students about money management skills, financial planning, job hunting, developing a resume, using effective job interviewing skills, and career exploration.