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Mercy Flight paramedic hits 1,000 flights

“I’m not going to lie, the flying is definitely wonderful. But I love being able to help people."
Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 16:43:32-04

Maunay Kelley has been dedicated to saving lives for 25 years.

“I always wanted to be a cop or ambulance driver growing up,” Kelley said.

She’s been with Benefis Mercy Flight since November 2012 and nearly eight years later, she’s reached a milestone.

“When I first started, a flight paramedic said to me, ‘Maunay, if I can give you one piece of advice, keep track of your flights,’” Kelley said.

So she did. And today, Kelley is proud to announce she’s hit 1,000 patient transports.

“I’m not going to lie, the flying is definitely wonderful. But I love being able to help people,” Kelley said.

Mercy Flight responds to over 1,000 calls a year. The shift for a flight paramedic is seven days on, seven days off, 12 hours at a time, taking turns on the helicopter or jet. Mercy Flight can cut the time of a transport by ground in half.

“With Montana, locally the only time Mercy Flight is called is if it’s a really bad accident. Multiple patients, somebody that if their life is really on the line,” Kelley said. “Since the distance is so far for a lot of places here, the helicopter is called the Golden Hour. Anytime from the time of an accident or serious illness or heart attack or stroke, you have an hour to get them to definitive care.”

And just like your typical flight, some days have more turbulence than others.

“A lot of the times it doesn’t turn out well but there is a lot of good that comes out of it,” Kelley said. “I’ve met people that have come back after I thought they would never make it. I’m still friends with a lot of people where their family members were involved in something. That’s definitely the rewarding part.”

Kelley says the Mercy Flight team is supportive of one another.

“We as a team talk to each other when we have a bad call. We’ll talk to each other and help each other through it. With all the stuff we go through when you have that good outcome that tends to help renew your faith and renew this is what I want to do and this is what I like to do despite all the bad,” Kelley said.

Kelley hopes to continue to grow in her career. She says she never wants to stop helping people.

“As far as goals go, I’ve had a good career being a paramedic. I love being a paramedic. I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve always thought about doing flight nursing,” Kelley said.

Her colleague, Mark Long, is set to hit 1,500 flights soon.

“You can do anything you set your mind to. Sometimes it can be tough but if you stick to it, keep your mind on it. Go the route, go whenever you want to go,” Kelley said. “I have the best job in the world. I would definitely recommend it.”