Trailblazer

August 30, 2022

“I’m always racking my brain, trying to find new ways to improve patient and healthcare services, and then, when I do envision that new instrument, someone’s already developed it, so I try to be quick with my ideas,” quips Michael Gibson, flight nurse with CALSTAR 5 Salinas, California, a Global Medical Response (GMR) solution.

Gibson, one of GMR’s 33 recipients of the 2022 American Ambulance Association’s (AAA) Stars of Life award, was chosen for the prestigious recognition for his relentless pursuit of the advancement of EMS. That insatiable desire to develop devices and processes that enhance both patient and healthcare provider experiences was one of the driving forces that compelled him to create his latest invention, the Negative Pressure Isolation Mask Adapter.

“The mask adapter can easily be applied to any simple or NRB (non re-breather) mask. It’s a pull-out piece that turns a mask into a closed suction system that protects the healthcare provider by decreasing viral load exposure of COVID-19 and, or its variants when transporting or handling patients who have the virus,” says Gibson. 

The covering, which is patent pending and in honor and memory of Gibson’s partner, Flight Nurse Drew Mosher, was incepted in the early days of the pandemic when many clinicians were fearful, themselves, of falling victim to the virus. But for Gibson, the problem was viewed more as an opportunity. “My mantra is slow is smooth and smooth is fast, so when you take the time to understand your particular situation, you are better equipped to solving the issues you’re facing,” says Gibson. 

Described as an outstanding pillar in the community, Gibson is praised for his leadership mentoring high school students, particularly those who are at-risk. He’s been commended for using his personal time to teach inner-city students about medicine, aviation and career options in the medical transportation industry. 

In addition, his extensive list of academic and professional credentials is another example of his passion for EMS. His educational background includes everything from a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from California State University, Monterey Bay, Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN), Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) to Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN). He even volunteers as a writer for the Board of Certification of Emergency Nursing (BCEN) and the TCRN exam. It’s clear the spirit of learning is embedded in Gibson’s DNA and is one that isn’t going to slow down any time soon. In fact, it was that very “spirit of learning” that originally led him on a path towards the air medical industry.

“I was in nursing school in 2011 and doing rotations in the ER, when I saw a medical helicopter land. I saw the flight nurses and was immediately intrigued. That’s when I thought, I want to do that, sign me up,” he says with a smile.

That infectious excitement over a career choice that, some would say, has endured some of the most difficult challenges ever experienced by any one occupation in the nation’s workforce, especially in the last few years, is what make’s Gibson’s reasons for continuing it, and continuing it with zeal, all the more interesting.

“I love the autonomy of the work and the fact that I get to exercise my strengths, especially in situations where the pressure is on. That is pretty special! There’s something about caring for a person and then dropping them off in better condition than what you found them. That’s why I love this job.”

A realistic understanding of his responsibilities, pride in his service, a voracious appetite for increased effectiveness and a pure joy in living out the EMS purpose and mission are just a few of the qualities that make Gibson stand out. But, then again, that’s what trailblazers do. They shine, bravely pioneering new concepts and breakthroughs and taking risks, and in the process, changing the people and environment around them.

This article is in memory of Flight Nurse Drew Mosher: End of watch – April 27, 2022. 

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