Memorial MedFlight nurse logs 1,000th patient transport
Tracey Daggy, CFRN, TCRN, started her nursing career with no intention of being a Memorial MedFlight nurse. Like most callings in life, the career found her.
During her first week as an emergency room nurse at a local hospital, several children arrived via ambulance from a house fire. A helicopter flew in from Fort Wayne to transport the patients to a burn center in Kalamazoo. The flight nurse’s actions made a lasting impression on Daggy.
“All I remember from that day is the flight nurse came in confident,” Daggy said. “She did the job with absolute precision and purpose, and when she left I remember thinking, ‘Wow! That was impressive.'”
She never got the nurse’s name and didn’t think much about it afterward. But one day five years later, a phone call out of the blue changed her life forever.
“A friend of mine called and said, ‘There is a medical helicopter coming to South Bend, and I think you have the personality and skill set for it,'” Daggy said. “She gave me a phone number, and I immediately called to set up the process.”
Shortly after that, Daggy became South Bend’s first certified flight nurse. She recently completed her 1,000th Memorial MedFlight patient transport, a milestone 17 years in the making.
“It’s unusual for any nurse to get to 1,000 patients,” Daggy said. “There are so many reasons we don’t fly — weather gets in our way or we are already on a call — so we are limited to who needs us and when we can go.”
Rodney Logan, RN, BSN, CMTE, Director, Beacon Mobile Patient Care and Transport, said the milestone is such a monumental achievement due to the rigor required of the role.
“The reason this is so impressive is that the nature of the job can wear on you,” he said. “You have to want to do this and want to succeed, as the calling requires a special kind of dedication and loyalty to deliver that kind of care.”
The reason for every flight is different, Daggy said. The one thing her patients have in common is they need urgent, lifesaving care when time is of the essence. Her specialized training allows her to care for any patient regardless of the situation.
“There are not many places for patients to receive prehospital care,” Logan said. “Most medical professionals have a specific area of expertise, whereas Tracey has to take care of all patients of all ages regardless of their condition.”
Daggy doesn’t fly just locally, either. Memorial MedFlight often assists other regional hospital networks when they need to transport patients needing critical care. She has traveled with patients to Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. She once flew with a patient to Pittsburgh and has cared for patients en route to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
With the average patient flight lasting a little over an hour, Daggy has also logged about 1,300 hours in the air caring for patients. She has no intention of slowing down either.
“I love my job and couldn’t think of doing anything else,” Daggy said. “The patients we see are always different, and we are always learning from every situation and becoming better at what we do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”