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Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

AltRed Ambassador, Kristen Hamilton, discusses her life as Life Flight pilot in Alaska during the COVID Pandemic.
Image of Kristen Hamilton Image provide by Kristen Hamilton

I fly around the state of Alaska to rural villages, hospitals, and health care centers and provide medical care while taking them to higher level of care. It’s like a flying emergency room/ICU. We often have to transport people to Seattle for services we don’t have here and sometimes even further to Denver, Salt Lake City, Minnesota, or even New York for specialty centers. ⁠

Our practice has changed a lot. We are trying to keep COVID out of the villages since it could severely impact the people and health care network. Most of the villages have only one health care worker and very limited resources. We’ve locked them down and allow very few people in and out and have to barely leave the plane to move the sick or injured on so we don’t possible contaminate others. The plane gets coated in single use plastic for every flight and cleaning takes about 2-3 hours at minimum after, which is very draining. After each flight, I have to wash everything I wore and take a shower before coming home.

The hospital has hired us as emergency employees. So when I’m flying, I’m working 13 hour days in the hospital helping out. The local arena in my city has been set up as a field hospital for when the hospital fills and I’ll fill in there to care for patients.

I’m happy to be doing my part and glad Alaska so far is not getting hit hard. I hope our seclusion and efforts can work in our favor and keep more people healthy.

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