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Editor’s note: In honor of National Nurses Week, we’re rerunning our profile of Diana Samuelson.  

I always knew I wanted to do something with some adrenaline. I started out in Harborview’s Trauma Intensive Care Unit as a student, and I spent the next 10 years there taking care of critical patients. My first flight with Airlift Northwest, we arrived at the scene of a small plane crash. We were getting ready to land on a golf course and I thought oh wow, I’m really doing this!

Life on base is a little like a firehouse. We work in 24-hour shifts, and there’s lots of camaraderie: training together, cooking meals, watching movies. When we’re not on a patient call, we have lots of autonomy to focus on training. We’re always reading up because we never know who the next patient will be. It could be a pediatric patient, a mom in labor, someone having a heart attack, or a trauma victim. When the pager goes off, we’re ready to go.

Airlift Northwest crew exit a plane

I’ve always loved flying and traveling. The scenery here is unreal. Flying close to all these beautiful mountains, over the water—it’s an awesome work environment. Of course, we fly in rain, snow, sleet and fog. And we definitely get our share of turbulence. You learn how to stay on your feet.

What I love the most about my job is that we can do so much in a limited space. We train to take care of really sick patients and to perform some lifesaving measures. We do everything we can for our patients. It’s work I’m honored to be a part of.

As told to Jake Siegel


Diana Samuelson: Flight Nurse at Airlift Northwest’s Juneau base

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