A look inside a Mercy Flights aircraft

Central Point, Ore. — Wednesday, Sept. 27, is National First Responder Appreciation Day. In honor of the holiday, NBC5 News visited Mercy Flights headquarters in Central Point.

“We have all of the medications available to us. We have all the equipment we can monitor,” said Jennifer Shealy, flight nurse for Mercy Flights.

She’s also one of the thousands of first responders working each day to save lives.

“Prior to landing, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” she said.

The helicopter is her office.

“We can simulate an ER or an ICU setting for a short period of time,” she said.

Cruising at an average of 140 mph, this aircraft has seen hundreds of patients — in all conditions.

“This pulls out and rotates to, in theory, about a 90-degree angle, sometimes a 45 depending on the level of the patient,” she said. “You don’t get the luxury of knowing what kind of patient you’re going to get or what type of patient you’re comfortable with. You have to be comfortable with them all.”

It’s not always the easiest environment to work in.

“Anything pre-hospital is very challenging. You don’t have the luxury of always relying on someone to tell you to make the right decisions and that you have a specific diagnosis. It’s just your job to figure that out,” she said.

A hard job, but Shealy said the first responders in these roles are made for it.

“The compassion that I think all these people have. They exhibit it every single day, we just don’t get to show that in the initial first response because it’s usually just a chaotic and hectic situation,” she said.

It’s that characteristic that drew in explorer Alex Calevicoglu to the field.

“The people here at mercy flights have a true passion for what they do,” he said.

It’s a passion he hopes to succeed in after he graduates high school, hoping to become a life-saving doctor himself.

“They don’t do it make money. They don’t do it just to have a job. They do it because they care about people and really care about saving people’s lives. That’s something that I’ll remember until the day that I’m a surgeon and after that,” he said.

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