Alum Serves in Elite Flight Nurse SquadronJuly 3, 2019 (Jackson, Miss.) - At any moment, Alex Harvey '17 could get an urgent call that has life or death consequences. He is part of an elite unit of flight nurses with the Air National Guard. In fact, there is only one Air National Guard flight nurse squadron in the state of Mississippi and only nine in the country. The 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron must be ready to mobilize and support any causality, crisis, or war effort at any time.

The main purpose of the squadron is to transport sick, injured, and critical service men, women, and civilians to higher levels of care or back home. “Our unit is active on a global scale and is always ready for the biggest and toughest missions out there,” Harvey noted. “We strive to be the best and challenge everyone in the unit to stay up-to-date on the latest information and ever-changing aspects of medical care.”

The squadrons fly on Boeing C-17s, but have the ability to fly on any fixed wing or rotor wing aircraft. “Our unit's C-17 plane platform gives us a comfortable working environment with plenty of storage,” added Harvey. “We manage patient care, help set up and conduct missions, and provide briefings to the crews on what our mission will look like.”

What makes Harvey's unit special is that they are all nurses in their civilian jobs. They bring the knowledge and expertise of working in a variety of medical settings. Some of the members are nurse practitioners and others are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

“We are a mix from almost every part of the hospital and all bring particular sets of skills and backgrounds with us. It makes flying missions a breeze because there is always someone who has at least been there, done that, or seen that at some point in their nursing career,” said Harvey.

Flight nurses, medical technicians, and flight surgeons all work in harmony to maintain a variety of patient conditions. “We can see anything from walky-talky clinic type patients to ventilator dependent and sedated patients,” said Harvey. “We have to have the knowledge and supplies to task any mission at a given moment. We have to be comfortable with all of our equipment and know how to use it.”

Wanting to further his career and take more challenges, Harvey decided to join the elite unit of flight nurses and medical technicians. “Our mission statement is 'to train and maintain readiness to deploy, in war or peace, in support of the movement of injured or wounded, as tasked by the President of the UnitedStates or the Governor of Mississippi.' All of us hold this mission statement close to our hearts, and we understand the importance of serving our country.”

After graduating from Belhaven's School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, he started his nursing career working in the neurology and stroke unit at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss. While there, he was selected to be a CLABSI champion, a position created to educate other nurses on the proper techniques of caring for central lines and venous accesses. He was eventually promoted to charge nurse of his shift and became an active member of the unit council.

Since March 2018, he has worked for the Baptist Emergency Department. The Mississippi Nurses Foundation and the Mississippi Nurses Association recently honored Harvey as “Nurse Rookie of the Year” at the 2019 Nightingale Awards Gala. He has also been working part-time for Merit Health Central's Emergency Department since August of 2018 and is increasing his knowledge on burns, hand injuries and other specialties.

This story is part of the University's digital magazine. For more stories like this one, check out the 2019 edition of Belhaven's Tartan Magazine.