UT Martin nursing teacher earns Air Evac wings
Contact 1: Erin Chesnut
MARTIN, Tenn. – Cassondra Burks, lecturer of nursing at the University of Tennessee at Martin, recently earned her wings to serve as a flight nurse with Air Evac Lifeteam. Martin is home to Air Evac Lifeteam 31, which has served northwestern Tennessee, southwestern Kentucky and southeastern Missouri since its establishment in 2003.
Burks, who is beginning her third year with the UT Martin faculty, teaches two classes, mentors student advisees and helps monitor clinical students in the nursing program. But even with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, she still finds new things to learn while flying with the Air Evac team.
“It’s a lot more of an EMS [emergency medical service] component,” she said. “I have clinic and critical care experience, but not EMS experience. You can land in a field or in a road, or you can do hospital-to-hospital transfers. With Air Evac, you really have to do further education, so I’m going to go back to get an advanced critical care certification and my EMT license as well.”
Burks’ new training involves a six-month orientation program, which includes a broader range of skills than those required in a hospital setting.
“The nurse’s scope of practice is different there. They’ve taught me how to intubate, but in a hospital nurses don’t intubate,” she explained. “You have to stay current, and you really have to know your stuff.”
The Air Evac team works in either 12 or 24-hour shifts during which team members remain at the base and wait for calls to arrive. Once a call comes in, the team mobilizes quickly to address the need.
Air Evac Lifeteam is operated by Air Evac EMC, Inc., and is the largest independently owned and operated membership-supported air medical service in the United States, with 128 bases in 15 states. Team 31 is located on Baker Road off Skyhawk Parkway in Martin.
PHOTO ID: Cassondra Burks, lecturer of nursing at the University of Tennessee at Martin, is pictured working with the Air Evac Lifeteam unit in Martin.