Meet Sarah K.

Provider Type
Nurse Practitioner

Location of Locum Assignment(s)

Our internal Wilderness Medical Staffing team was fortunate to get to join a video call with contracted medical provider and nurse practitioner Sarah K., where she shared her first-hand experience during one of her assignments. Sarah takes assignments in Alaska, often on remote islands, where she is a solo provider for the entire community. During a recent medical emergency, Sarah not only had to contend with a sick patient, but she also had to navigate logistics and weather.

When 70 mph winds thwarted a Medevac rescue, Sarah made the decision to continue providing lifesaving care amidst the intense winds. Typically, she would have taken a helicopter to a neighboring island, and then a Medevac would have stepped in to help. In this case, the weather wouldn’t safely allow for that to happen, which meant different logistics had to be coordinated. She called in the United States Coast Guard.

Eventually, the weather calmed just enough for the Coast Guard to assist. This led to a helicopter ride in which they skimmed just 500 ft above the ocean, dodging dense fog.

From there, Sarah and the team had to land on a small neighboring island, where another WMS provider, Pete D., PA-C, met Sarah and was quick to assist. Sarah said, “Just seeing his face and knowing he was there kept me going.” With help from the USCG and Pete, Sarah and her patient transferred to a C-130 – and took off again – to get the patient to the higher level of care that was needed. Sarah traveled with the patient the entire time, caring for them for 29 continuous hours!

Sarah’s story highlights the true challenges and determination of healthcare providers in the most remote areas. While not every day on assignment is like this, it is certainly a possibility when working in rural and remote areas!

When finishing her presentation, Sarah shared, “Medicine is the same no matter where you go. For me, the logistics of the next thing is what I love. I tell my friends what I do, and they are like, ‘What in the world?’ But that’s the fun part! I just rode on an airplane with the Coast Guard!”