Flight nurse clocks 1000 flights on her last day

22 August 2022

Flight nurse Aileen Kirby (above) is just one of four ICU nurses at Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora Taranaki to reach 1000 patient flights – and she did it on her last day in the job.

Returning from Waikato base hospital with a patient for the milestone, the flight in heavy rain definitely wasn’t the most spectacular, nor the roughest Aileen has experienced.

“We sometimes fly as far as Christchurch and Dunedin and have had the most spectacular sunsets and views of the Southern Alps covered in snow,” says Aileen who is one of a team of eight ICU flights nurses at Taranaki base hospital.

“We’ve also had our share of very rough weather – it’s a good thing I have a cast iron stomach!”

Becoming a nurse in 2004, Aileen became an ICU nurse in 2010, and a flight nurse in 2012 undertaking an average of one or two flights a day transferring patients for specialist care in another hospital and repatriating them again on her rostered flight days on.

“Becoming a flight nurse was a really interesting challenge that used more of my resources as an ICU nurse as there is usually just myself and the pilot in the plane. It’s all the intensity of ICU but with an amazing view!”

Aileen is leaving “the tight knit bunch” at Taranaki base to spend more time with her daughter and family in Wellington.

 “Being in the air for a couple of hours with a patient, you are on a first name basis and develop a really good rapport with the patients. It’s been an amazing journey in a very privileged job.”

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