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Nurse Emily and RACQ LifeFlight Rescue take health care to new heights

Emily Ragus always knew she was destined for a career in healthcare, but she never envisaged that patient care would take place in the sky.

Emily, one of six RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Rotary Wing Flight Nurses, began working on the service’s new AW139 helicopters when they were added to LifeFlight’s fleet in July 2015. And Emily will be spending Christmas Day, along with other LifeFlight crews around Queensland, in airlifting patients in their hour of need.

The AW139s primarily airlift sick and injured patients from rural and regional towns to tertiary hospitals for further medical treatment.

“I’ve always had an interest in pre-hospital nursing and pre-hospital medicine, and how that can really impact a community,” Emily recalls.

When Emily moved to Ravensthorpe in 2011, a small country town outside Perth in Western Australia, she was able to see first hand the lifesaving impact of aeromedical services on rural communities.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service was routinely called to the hospital where Emily worked, to provide additional medical care and airlift the most critically sick and injured patients.

It was a career-changing realisation for Emily how rural towns and communities relied on aeromedical services in their hour of need and eventually inspired her to work for RACQ LifeFlight Rescue.

A Sunshine Coast local, Emily was the first in her family to enter into the healthcare profession.

“I’m from a family that really stayed away from any healthcare profession, however from when I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to do something in that area,” she said.

Breaking away from family tradition, Emily moved to Brisbane when she was 17 to begin her studies at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and enrolled into a Bachelor of Nursing.

After graduating, Emily began working in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. However she soon realised her personality and skillset would be better suited to the fast-paced and challenging nature of pre-hospital emergency care.

Emily decided to return to QUT to complete a post-graduate degree in Emergency Nursing and began working for RACQ LifeFlight Rescue in 2015 as one of the first rotary wing Flight Nurses on the new AW139 helicopters.

Featuring in a new QUT campaign, Real Health Matters, Emily hopes to raise awareness of pre-hospital care and in particular, pre-hospital nursing which is a relatively new healthcare discipline.

“I think it’s really important to realise nursing is an area where you are able to do completely different things on a day to day basis. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you,” she said.

While the field may be relatively new, Emily and her fellow RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Flight Nurses have already made a significant impact on rural communities flying a record 2200 missions in 2015-16.

With the helicopter as her emergency room, each day Emily gets to extend beyond her traditional role as a ‘Nurse’.

 “The fact that I get to be more one-on-one with the patient in this role means I get to really connect with some of these people. I get to connect with them not just as a patient, but as part of a small community,” she said.

 “We don’t have a huge team to rely on, there’s just myself, the doctor and the pilots so we all work together.

“We all go into different areas that we wouldn’t normally go into. We’re a small, tight team but that’s what makes us so strong.”

Securing the rear cabin, ensuring passenger safety and scanning for power lines are now also part of the job for Emily.

Peter Pearce, General Manager of LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine, said Flight Nurses had been an integral addition to the LifeFlight Rescue crews.

“Lifeflight is very proud to have reintroduced Flight Nurses to the emergency helicopter rescue service in Queensland,” Peter said.

“Since July 2015 our Flight Nurse team has been working from our Brisbane Base helping to transport seriously ill and injured patient all across southern Queensland.

“Our nursing standards are demanding but we are always pleasantly surprised to find very high calibre nurses who want to fly with us. Flight Nurse Emily Ragus is a fine example of the highly skilled nurses working at Lifeflight.”

Every day in the air brings a new challenge for Emily but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s always changing so you never know what’s going to happen. That’s part of the adrenaline rush and what I love about this style of nursing,” she said.

“One day you can be going and looking after a critically ill elderly patient from a small regional hospital with multiple co-morbidities and the next you could be attending a trauma or assisting the paediatric team. You never know what you’re going to get or what you’re going to deal with”.

Saving lives doesn’t slow down for Emily and the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crews this Christmas.

Crews work tirelessly 365 days of the year to ensure everyone, no matter where they are, has access to emergency aeromedical care.

To support Emily and the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crews by donating to the Summer Appeal today.
https://goo.gl/wnZSiw

Se Emily's Video Below: