Ralph Penner: Flight Nurse
It’s my job to make sure all Manitobans get appropriate treatment as quickly and effectively as possible, and it’s a new adventure every day.
Local 20 - Civil Service, Health Component
Imagine going to work in the morning and only being sure of two things: you will be in a small plane and there will be a crisis. Every day, Manitoba’s flight nurses do just that, striving to stabilize critical patients while they’re flown into Winnipeg for further treatment.
“We bring specialized medical care to rural and remote Manitobans,” says Ralph Penner, a flight nurse for the past six years. “Often patients are suffering trauma from a heart attack or car accident. The smaller communities tend not to have specialized doctors or nurses and so our only option is to get them into Winnipeg as quick as possible.”
It’s not uncommon for flight nurses to fly in to an air strip, ride a fishing boat across the water, and then travel by truck to the nursing station. They travel by Hover craft and helicopter, whatever it takes to get to the patient, get them stabilized, and get out again.
“There are even times when Winnipeg can’t provide the specialized care a patient needs,” says Penner. “We’ve flown liver and heart transplant patients to other parts of Canada, and children to Toronto’s sick kids hospitals. In those cases, we’re transporting from one intensive care unit to another and the plane becomes a mini, flying ICU.”
For Penner, it’s always rewarding to ensure rural Manitobans have access to the care they need.
“I grew up in Cartwright, so I know first-hand what it’s like to live in a community where only basic care is available. It’s my job to make sure all Manitobans get appropriate treatment as quickly and effectively as possible, and it’s a new adventure every day.”