“Flying in Haiti is an amazing experience”, said Emily Ensminger, a flight nurse volunteering with Haiti Air Ambulance

From July 30th to august 14th, Emily Ensminger has been in Haiti as part of the Haiti Air Ambulance volunteer program. In fact, the “Haiti Air Ambulance volunteer program is designed to bring Flight Nurses and Paramedics from all over the world to experience Haiti. Each comes for 7-14 days and flies with our crew as part of the team. It allows everyone to learn from each other”, said Cory Oaks, the Program director of Haiti Air Ambulance.

In a particular context, she faced her concerns about political unrest that was spreading in international news and gave herself an opportunity to discover a new world. We invite you to read an exclusive interview on her two weeks volunteering in Haiti as part of the Haiti Air Ambulance crew.

Haiti Air Ambulance: Can you introduce yourself with all the possible details?
Emily Ensminger: My name is Emily Ensminger. I am 32 years old and I have been a flight nurse for 5 years with Classic Air Medical in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. I was born in San Diego, California and I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I have been a registered nurse for 11 years.
I live in the mountains of Buena Vista, Colorado. I have two dogs, Cali and Goose, and they are my adventure friends!
In my off time, I like spending as much time as I can outdoors.

HAA: Can you tell us more about your passion for the medical field and the reason you chose to do a career?
E. E.: I have been in the medical field since I was 18 years old. I went to school to become an EMT and I fell in love with the medical field. I met a flight nurse shortly after becoming an EMT. She had a big influence on my career and me. She showed me that I could do anything that I put in my mind and inspired me to become a flight nurse. I worked hard to gain the knowledge and experience to become a flight nurse eventually.
I love being a part of someone’s healing and being there when they are looking for someone to care for them when they are not at their best. I love continuing to learn so I can continually improve my medical knowledge and skills to better help my patients. I strive to be the person that my patients can find comfort and reassurance in when they are frightened or scared. I love sharing my knowledge and passion with others to mentor them in the field.

HAA: How did it start and what was your motivation to choose Haiti to volunteer?
E. E.: One of my good friends and coworkers told me about the volunteer program with Haiti over a year ago. I started looking into the volunteer program at that time. When Classic Air Medical started helping Haiti Air Ambulance on the aviation side, I was able to talk with the pilots who flew in Haiti and my interest and passion grew to come fly in Haiti. I have not flown as a flight nurse outside of the country before, and I wanted to experience flying in a different part of the world and help others in Haiti, knowing how important it is to have a medical helicopter in Haiti.

HAA: Based on the news in international media, what was your expectation and perception before coming and what do you see now being here physically?
E. E.: I was hearing about the political unrest prior to coming to Haiti, especially with the assassination of the president. I spoke with Cory prior to coming and he eased my concerns of safety by letting me know we have excellent security while in the country. I was a little nervous prior to coming to Haiti because of the political unrest. When I arrived in Haiti, and throughout my stay I felt very welcome and safe.
Antoius and Emilio are very skilled and excellent at protecting us and keeping us safe, and I felt very secure when I was with them! I felt very welcomed by everyone at the base and loved getting to know everyone. I was able to see a beautiful side of Haiti and had minimal concerns when I was here.

HAA: Since you have been in Haiti, how do you enjoy the flights? Any impressions? Cultural shock? Similarity in the US?
E. E.: Flying in Haiti is an amazing experience! The country is beautiful. I noticed a difference in healthcare between the US and Haiti, and realized we are bringing a valuable service to the people of Haiti. Access to healthcare is difficult because of distances and the political unrest.
Thus, without the helicopter, they might not have access to healthcare when they are sick or hurt. There is a great need for air medical services, and it really made me proud to work with this amazing team and see the work they do for this country. There are cultural differences between Haiti and the US, and it was life changing for me to experience the culture of Haiti.

HAA: Would you come back to volunteer in the future? Why?
E. E.: Absolutely I will come back to volunteer again! I felt a part of the family while I was there, and everyone was so welcoming. All of the local physicians and EMT’s are very knowledgeable, and they taught me so much while I was flying in Haiti. I have never felt so quickly a part of a family before, and I would consider it an honor to come back to fly with my new friends!

The program is special and it is making a big difference for Haitians by bringing them access to medical care. Thank you for everything you have taught me while I was volunteering!

Interview done by Michelet Joseph