Surprise flyby for students

A Weber State University course full of nursing students had the opportunity to visit with crew members of a local air ambulance service.

Karen Burton, an assistant professor in the nursing program and six-year employee of WSU, teaches several courses each semester. One of these courses, Nursing 3010: Nursing History and Theory, aims to teach newly accepted nursing students the story of nurses and the basis of modern-day practices used in medicine.

As part of the semester-long course, students are required to form a group and present a historical project that includes the overarching aspect of nursing.

“This year, we’ve had many interesting presentations,” Burton said, “from the history of nurses’ uniforms, to men’s role in nursing, from P.O.W. nurses, to the history of ambulances.”

In fact, it was the presentation on the history of ambulances that led to the visit of the air ambulance on Wednesday.

During the group presentation, WSU student and nursing student Holly Wright explained how emergency services have changed throughout the years.

“Wars have changed the ways that people have thought about transporting the injured,” Wright said.

In ancient times, a hammock-based cart allowed an injured person to be carried to what were then hospitals. Since the advent of the motor, steam- and electricity-powered vehicles have been used to transport such individuals. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War era that helicopters made their debut — for both offensive and defensive purposes.

According to Flight Paramedic Colin Hart, in 2005, the Ogden Regional Medical Center and the University of Utah Hospital’s AirMed program partnered to provide emergency air ambulance services to address needs in northern Utah.

“We’re based out of the University of Utah’s satellite base at Ogden Regional,” Hart said. “Altogether, we have about 1,800 missions per year.”

After the helicopter landed on the quad, just west of the Social Sciences Building on WSU’s Ogden campus, students were allowed to approach and inspect the helicopter and direct questions to any of its three-member crew.

As part of the AirMed service, the U of U provided the Bell 407 helicopter and flight crew, consisting of a pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. The fairly new helicopter carries one patient, reaches speeds up to 140 mph and is designed to fly at high altitudes.

Hart, who is an alumnus of WSU and graduated with the no-longer-existing police science degree, addressed several questions from students.

“One thing that is very important for us to do is work in harmony,” Hart said. “We each have very different training, but we complement each other and learn from each other.”

Wright, who sported a reflective, bright yellow vest, helped direct the helicopter as it landed.

“Experiences like these allow students to understand all of the avenues of nursing,” Burton said. “It also helps these students to be more well-rounded.”

Other students in Burton’s class gave a presentation about the history of anatomy. Burton explained that the study of anatomy wasn’t all that easy in earlier years, and some people would become serial killers and sell the corpses to doctors so they could discover more about human anatomy, while others would devote their lives to grave robbery, selling the uncovered bodies to medical personnel.

“Doctors relied heavily upon ape corpses to determine human anatomy,” Burton said. “There are some things that just aren’t that similar.”

According to Burton, the Nursing History and Theory course has been a recurring favorite for students seeking postsecondary degrees in nursing.

“I really enjoy teaching this class, and I know students enjoy (it) too,” Burton said. “(The course) really takes nursing to the next level — a level of more critical thinking and advanced decision-making.”