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Published August 09, 2010, 12:00 AM

It's My Job: LifeFlight nurse transports precious cargo

Peggy Hanson loves working in trauma, and she loves to fly. So she worked up the medical ladder, combined her two passions, and became the chief LifeFlight nurse at Sanford Health.

By: Andi Murphy, INFORUM

Peggy Hanson loves working in trauma, and she loves to fly. So she worked up the medical ladder, combined her two passions, and became the chief LifeFlight nurse at Sanford Health.

At about 4,000 feet and 150 mph, Hanson, 35, can be working on patients from car accidents, transporting patients from smaller hospitals to Sanford, or rushing a donated heart to a patient who seriously needs it.

In the Bell 222 helicopter, nicknamed “The Deuce,” or in “the little blue helicopter,” Hanson flies a couple times a week while also covering the tasks of being a regular nurse at Sanford.

“People always ask, ‘Are you a pilot?’ And I say, ‘No, just a nurse,’ ” Hanson said, referring to her gray pilot-like suit.

Hanson grew up in Walhalla, N.D. Like a lot of high school students, she said, she didn’t know what to do after graduation.

She eventually got her licensed practical nurse status in Wahpeton and then became a registered nurse in Bismarck and got her master’s degree in education at North Dakota State University.

She currently also teaches an intensive-care-unit class at Minnesota State University in Moorhead.

Q: How did you get started as a LifeFlight nurse?

A: I worked in a small hospital, and we called LifeFlight to come get patients, and I was like, “I want to be them. I want to be the one to go out and get the patients.”

What is your job as a nurse like?

Every day is different, and we’re not designated to one area. I was starting an IV (intravenous fluids drip) not too long ago, but then OB might call me, and then I get to see a new mom who needs an IV, or we might get to go help on peds (pediatrics) or in the ER. We get to roam around and help everyone.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

Seeing how happy not only the patient is but the other referral places are that we’re (LifeFlight) there. The patients are glad to see us; the family is glad to see us, even though they never want to meet us. They are just glad we’re there.

How has it been lately?

It’s been a weird week. We’ve been to Nashville and Wisconsin. We do go

to Canada usually. A lot of times it’s to bring a patient who is up fishing or up visiting back to our area.

What is one call you will never forget?

My first ride-along. It was a scene flight, and it was a young family that was driving, and the dad unclicked the seat belt to put the pacifier in the baby’s mouth. Then the car rolled. He called his wife and said, “It’s not good,” and he arrested in flight, and he ended up dying. And it was awful to see that happen to someone so young ... that patient made it to

the hospital and was pronounced there where he would’ve died on the road. His wife knew we did everything possible for him and any chance he had was made available, and I just knew that I had to do something like that that could cause an impact.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Andi Murphy at (701) 235-7311


To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” e-mail businessnews@forumcomm.com.

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