Burroughs High School teacher Sadie Nutter’s health careers class was just crossing the street when the Mercy Air air ambulance helicopter touched down on the grassy patch behind the Leroy Jackson Park tennis courts on Friday morning.

Nutter had arranged for Mercy Air and Liberty Ambulance to bring a helicopter and an ambulance for her students to learn about. She said she tries to make the arrangement every other year.

While the helicopter and ambulances may have been the initial draw, their crews may have been the more interesting part.

Mercy Air flight nurse Richard Noe spent nearly the whole hour fielding questions from the 30 or so students in the BHS health careers class. Questions ranged from asking how to become a pilot to asking how they secure patients in the helicopter to whether or not Noe has ever gotten airsick and thrown up mid-flight.

Flight nurse Brynn Ruffin told the Daily Independent that they’re stationed at Mojave Air and Space Port, and respond to calls all over Kern.

She said that in addition to the faster travel speed, the air ambulance and crew are also able to perform more advanced medical procedures than a standard ambulance. For example, she said the air ambulance may be called in if a patient’s airways are closing and they need an air tube. 

Nutter gave her class a basic worksheet to fill out in order to get them going on asking questions. She said that one goal of the event is to expose them to the idea that medical jobs don’t just mean working in a hospital. As the students saw during the event, the medical field needs pilots, drivers, public relations professionals, and more.