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U-M Survival Flight wins national critical care competition


Two U-M flight nurses shine during Medical Education Technologies competition; Others on Survival Flight team receive special honors too

ANN ARBOR, MI – As part of the University of Michigan Health System’s Survival Flight team, flight nurses Michael Chesney, RN, and David Roberts, RN, are experts at providing emergency medical care in the air and on the ground to some of the most critically ill and injured patients.

Michael Chesney, RN, and David Roberts, RNWhat they may be less accustomed to, however, is caring for severely injured patients in front of an audience of hundreds of medical peers and video cameras, while going head-to-head in competition with other air rescue teams from across North America.

But at the sixth annual Air Medical Transport Conference hosted by the Association of Air Medical Services in Tampa, Chesney and Roberts had the opportunity to showcase their medical expertise in life and death situations using patient simulator technology. Their poise and skill earned them the top honor for the event’s Medical Education Technologies, Inc-sponsored critical care competition, and the METI trophy.

For winning the competition, the duo also received a cash prize, and trips to Tampa for the 2008 METI simulator conference and Prague, Czech Republic, for the international air rescue competition.

“We are so proud of Mike and Dave. They, along with the rest of our Survival Flight team, do extraordinary work each day and are truly deserving of this honor,” says Denise Landis, RN, manager for critical care transport at the U-M Health System. “This is yet another shining example of nursing excellence at U-M.”

Survival Flight competitionThe critical care competition, in which eight teams competed, included a preliminary round that simulated two life-saving scenarios: the first involving a child drowning victim, and the second a patient with complex medical issues suffering from a drug overdose.

Only two teams – including Survival Flight – advanced to the final round. For this part of the competition, the teams had to provide timely care to an agitated gunshot wound victim who was a drug smuggler, while dealing with police officers and bystanders, played by actors, at the scene. The teams were scored based on the timeliness and accuracy of the medical care that was delivered, the skill with which procedures were performed, and how well they worked together as a team.

“Our team excelled during this competition. We’ve always placed an emphasis on the degree and diversity of the training Survival Flight nurses undergo. Being recognized as the best among crews from across North America illustrates that our crews are among the most skilled air medical staff in the country,” says Mark J. Lowell, M.D., medical director of Survival Flight.

Chesney has been a Survival Flight team member since 2001. He began his career with UMHS in the Emergency Department in 1993, and entered nursing school in 1994. After receiving his nursing degree, Chesney focused his efforts on becoming a flight nurse. For five years, he worked to gain the necessary experience for the position by working in various intensive care units and emergency departments. Today, he serves on the UMHS education committee. As a licensed paramedic instructor coordinator, Chesney is a frequent presenter at Michigan’s EMS Expo and Survival Flight conferences as well.

Roberts started his medical career in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. He earned his nursing degree in 1993, following service in Operation Desert Shield/Storm aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort. After working in several intensive care units and emergency departments, Roberts began his career with UMHS in 1997. He became a flight nurse with Survival Flight in 1999.

In addition to the METI cup, Survival Flight nurse specialist Paul Mazurek, RN, was officially presented at the conference with the Association of Air Medical Services 2007 “Crew Member of the Year” award. Mazurek – who has worked with Survival Flight since 2003 – was selected in June to receive this honor for his on going commitment to excellent in patient care, his expert clinical skills and education initiatives within critical care, and his leadership and teamwork at UMHS.

Plus, Landis received the 2007 Association of Air Medical Service President’s Award at the conference for her work to establish the Medical Transport Leadership Institute, as well as her overall support of AAMS.

To learn more about Survival Flight, the UMHS air medical transport service, visit For more information on METI, the METI Cup and the HPSN
conference, go to

Written by Krista Hopson


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