The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 10

For thrill-seeker Stephanie McKinney, the career of flight
nurse is near-perfect with its challenges.

I

T'S IMPOSSIBLE TO MISS

Stephanie McK inney standing
outside Famous Anthony's in Crystal
Spring in her bright blue uniform. The
first thing she tells me is how, when
wearing it, she's often mistaken for an
astronaut. After an hour-long lunch
over cheeseburger wraps, I wouldn't
be surprised if she said she wanted to
tackle the adventure of space travel in
her eventual retirement.
McKinney, a native Roanoker, is a
flight nurse and preceptor for Carilion
Life-Guard 10. In nursing for 26
years, she began her career in the ER,
which she found incredibly exciting,
and worked there for a decade before
officially taking flight; 16 years later, she
loves it as much as the day she started.
"Every day is always different," she
says. "There is a lot of interaction with
the public and a ton of autonomy, which
I love. I have the best job ever!"
The Life-Guard teams are comprised
of five nurses, five medics and four
pilots at each base, with three bases in
the region. McKinney works out of the
Westlake base near Smith Mountain
Lake. A typical day on the job entails
12- and 24-hour shifts and includes

10

JULY/AUGUST 2018

much more than flying the skies to help
others. It kicks off with a briefing with
the pilot (typically retired military),
followed by an aircraft check to make
sure everything they may need is there.
They don't have to wait long for flight
requests; once the pilot okays the
weather, they'll soar out to help.
"We have a great group of people,"
she says. "We all work well together and
are with each other all the time. It's our
home away from home and we're family."
McKinney and her team do a lot of
inter-hospital transport (not limited to
Carilion, but also UVA, Duke, UNC,
VCU and many others) for situations
like wrecks on the interstate, rural
farming accidents and more.
They've also started doing more heart
and stroke alerts out in the field, since
the helicopter is able to cut down on
significant travel time when the ticking
clock matters most. (An hour by car is
about 20 minutes of flight; they can get
to UVA in 45 minutes and the typical
hour and a half drive to Danville is
around 20 minutes by air.)
She and her coworkers depend on
each other through the good and the
bad. Their job is rewarding, but there

-LIZ LONG

TheRoanoker.com

LIZ LONG

It's a Bird, It's a Plane,
It's ... a Nurse!

are bad days, too. Tragic deaths,
anything to do with kids and the older
couples who have been together forever
and lose their spouses especially hit
home for McKinney.
"When we have those really bad calls,
our group leans on each other. We talk
a lot, which is probably the best therapy.
We get through it and luckily, those bad
days aren't that often," she says.
Everyone on the team has a project;
as a preceptor, McKinney also does
all the educational training on the
base. Nurses must have critical care
experience, and must always be up-todate on their training, of which there is a
lot. From survival and ventilator training
to simulation labs (why she's wearing
her uniform at our lunch) and safety
training, she's required to stay on top of
all the information. They also work with
several agencies and do a lot of PR work.
She and her husband Jeff, a stayat-home dad, have two kids-Kirsten,
14, and Jake, 12. They're a busy family
thanks to the kids' activities, such as
cheerleading and lacrosse for Kirsten,
and baseball and basketball for Jake.
On rare days to herself, McKinney
likes to run and train for marathons-
health and wellness is incredibly
important in her field, and she and
her team will often run together.
Now that her kids are older, she and
Jeff occasionally enjoy a night out in
Roanoke, exploring festivals and new
restaurants.
"Growing up, I swore I'd move and
never come back, but I love it here now,"
she says with a laugh. "My parents are
in Salem and it's nice being so close to
them."
The family also loves to travel, ticking
off Germany, France and Switzerland
on their list, to name a few. But for
McKinney, she finds the most excitement
in thrill-seeking adventures. Obviously
no stranger to heights, she's bungeejumped, hang-glided and parasailed;
sky-diving is even on the list of future
fun. Now it makes sense why she loves
flying in a helicopter all day!
"I could never work in an office. I like
being outside, my schedule, the work and
critical care. I can't think of anything
that could make my job better-maybe
fewer night shifts since those are starting
to take a toll on me!" I


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2018

The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - Intro
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 3
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 4
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 5
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 6
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 7
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 8
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 9
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 10
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 11
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 12
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 13
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 14
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 15
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 16
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 17
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 18
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 19
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 20
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 21
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 22
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 23
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 24
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 25
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 26
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 27
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 28
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 29
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 30
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 31
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 32
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 33
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 34
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 35
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 36
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 37
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 38
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 39
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 40
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 41
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 42
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 43
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 44
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 45
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 46
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 47
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 48
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 49
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 50
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 51
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 52
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 53
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 54
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 55
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 56
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 57
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 58
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 59
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 60
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 61
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 62
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 63
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 64
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 65
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 66
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 67
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 68
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 69
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 70
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 71
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 72
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 73
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 74
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 75
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 76
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 77
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 78
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 79
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 80
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 81
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 82
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 83
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 84
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 85
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 86
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 87
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 88
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 89
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 90
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 91
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 92
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 93
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 94
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 95
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 96
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 97
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 98
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 99
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 100
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 101
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 102
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 103
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 104
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 105
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - 106
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - Cover3
The Roanoker - July/August 2018 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20200304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20200102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20191112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20190910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20190708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20190506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20190304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20190102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20181112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20180910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20180708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20180506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20180304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20180102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20171112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20170910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/TheRoanoker_JulyAugust2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/TheRoanoker_MayJune2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20170304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20170102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20161112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20160910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20160708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20160506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20160304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20160102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20151112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20150910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20150708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20150506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20150304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20150102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20141112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20140910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20140708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_20140506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_201403
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/roanoker_201402
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com