Parkersburg, W.Va. (August 9, 2021) – Intubations equipment, check; blood pressure cuffs, check; suture kit, check; ready for take-off.
As a flight nurse, Chelsea Epling provides medical care to patients who get transported to hospitals in helicopters or planes. Even before she receives requests for transport, she performs daily checks of the aircraft and equipment, like ensuring all medications are current, cataloging supplies and packing accessories for electronic monitors.
“With our advanced scope of practice, we can bring the hospital to the patient,” said Epling. “Intubation, mechanical ventilation, chest decompression, blood administration, diagnosing STEMIs that occur in the field, critical drips. You name it; we can do it.”
Epling is a 2016 graduate of WVU Parkersburg and holds her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, Regents Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and is a critical care registered nurse (CCRN) and emergency medical technician (EMT-P). In addition to her training and certifications, Epling was also accepted into the ECHO’s Future Flight Crew.
The ECHO’s Future Flight Crew is a national program founded by operation flight programs to help train groups and discuss public safety issues and EMS flight services. ECHO also provides tactical, search and rescue and air medical training.
“This was a six-month training program that was mostly distance learning,” said Epling. “I had to fly out to Minnesota for a weekend of hands-on sessions and then spent a week at a conference specifically for flight medical providers, learning from some of the industry’s leading flight clinicians.”
Epling calls on her training and experience every day on the job. She credits her instructors and nursing education at WVU Parkersburg for providing her the skills to be successful.
“Kathy Frum, Cindy Watkins and Dr. Stephanie Smith-Stout spent countless hours giving me ‘tough love,’ praying with me and encouraging me,” said Epling. “They believed in me when I didn’t. They truly cared about my success in the nursing program and my success as a practicing RN. They taught me how to break down questions and apply what I was learning to real-life scenarios.”
She continued, “Hard work and determination can get you anywhere. This career can take you far, even up to 10,000 feet.”