World War II veterans aboard Sun Country Flight 8601 will be in good hands as they travel to and from the nation’s capital on Sept. 23-24.
To ensure the veterans’ health and well-being, both on the way to Washington, D.C., and during their two-day tour of some of the capital’s most spectacular monuments, a medical team of five health professionals will tag along. All are volunteers.
The veterans’ ages range from 83 to 102. At least nine of them use oxygen. About 50 of them rely on wheelchairs.
Beth Bouley, who for the second time is helping coordinate the trip, likened the Big Sky Honor Flight to a “moving city.”
“We’re making sure, for the families’ peace of mind, that we will tend to veterans’ medical concerns,” Bouley said.
The medical team will monitor and treat everything from the possible bumps and bruises to helping make the proper decision in case of emergency.
Bouley said calling 911 is not out of the realm of possibilities. On her fourth trip with veterans from North Dakota, one of the men tripped and fell and an ambulance was called.
“These five medical staff hold a very important role,” Bouley said. “They will be placed strategically on buses and at the various memorials on the tour so everyone will be monitored.”
Dr. Larry Severa, a family medicine physician and interim medical director of research at Billings Clinic, was the only physician aboard the inaugural flight and will again be the only physician on board the second flight.
“It’s a great honor to meet a new group of heroes during the second Big Sky Honor Flight,” Severa said. “I learned several things during the last trip that will help me during this trip — mainly that these men are a lot stronger and tougher than one would expect for a group of 80-90 year olds. I look forward to serving them again.”
Other members of the medical team are:
— Carrie Moffet, Billings, respiratory therapist with MedFlight, the Billings Clinic air transport team.
— Denise Licata, Missoula, registered nurse, the Goodman Group, which builds and manages senior living, health care and residential communities.
— Jordan Teller, Billings, nurse practitioner.
— Lauri Feralio, Billings, registered nurse, Valley Health Care Center.
Moffet and Licata, like Severa, were also part of the inaugural medical flight team.