SGU grad takes to skies to save lives in Florida

It was the fall of 2012 when Larissa Dudley, MD ’13, then an SGU medical student on an emergency medicine/EMS clinical rotation at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, accompanied helicopter crew on an airlift. It not only left an impression; it changed the course of her life.

“I happened to fly very shortly after Hurricane Sandy, and I was amazed by not only the view but by the amazing responsibility that these flight nurses and medics had,” she said. “Those in the aircraft risk their health and wellbeing to be available 24/7 to triage, stabilize, and safely deliver the most critical patients to their destinations, whether it be an emergency department, trauma center, or to the catheterization lab or operating room for definitive care.”

Dr. Dudley, now an emergency medicine physician in Florida, also serves as the assistant medical director of Health First’s First Flight, a helicopter program that makes approximately 700 flights per year covering the state’s Space Coast. First Flight is called for pre-hospital transports, often for severely injured trauma patients where the crew performs life-saving procedures and stabilization, as well as inter-facility transports. Dr. Dudley’s leadership role means that she is teaching and reviewing cases and best practices, updating and adjusting protocols, and maintaining relationships with local cities and towns to help coordinate seamless care.

“My heart is in EMS—all facets of EMS,” Dr. Dudley said. “As a physician, the oversight is nothing short of imperative, and the responsibility to maintain the crew’s education, clinical competencies, and best practices is humbling.”

– Brett Mauser