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The Taranaki ICU flight nurse that transported her 1000th patient on her last day

Aileen Kirby transported her 1000th patient on her last day in the job.

SUPPLIED/Stuff

Aileen Kirby transported her 1000th patient on her last day in the job.

After 18 years in the job, a Taranaki flight nurse transported her 1000th patient – and she did it on her last day.

“It was just coincidental,” Aileen Kirby said, days after stepping off the plane for the last time.

Kirby became a nurse in 2004 when she wanted a change from her job as an accountant.

“I was at a stage in my life where I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My Mum had a nasty car accident and was in hospital for a few weeks and I came home one day and thought: ‘Oh my god, that’s what I want to do. I’d love to be a nurse.’”

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She hasn’t looked back.

Kirby started as an orthopaedic nurse and seven years later moved into the intensive care unit (ICU), where a job became available as a flight nurse.

“I didn’t think I’d be good enough to work in ICU and never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be an ICU flight nurse.”

Flight Nurse Aileen thought of the air ambulance as her office in the sky.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Flight Nurse Aileen thought of the air ambulance as her office in the sky.

Kirby said flight days were her favourite because she got to meet and build relationships with the patients at her “office in the sky”.

“You get to know your patient very well because you’re spending a couple of hours one on one with them.”

Kirby plans to move to Wellington to be with her family. Olly the cat is going too.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

Kirby plans to move to Wellington to be with her family. Olly the cat is going too.

Asked what the hardest part of her job had been, Kirby replied it was being with a patient at the end of their life.

“Some patients will always stay with me because you share very special moments at the end.

“You process it, and it stays with you for a while, then it just goes until someone asks the question again, but it’s special to be a part of people’s lives at times like that.”

Kirby is just one of four ICU nurses in Taranaki to reach 1000 patient flights.

One week on from her last day, she said her job taught her that life is short, so she is getting ready to move to Wellington to spend more time with her daughter and granddaughter.

“It makes you appreciate and value life a lot more.”

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