July 16, 2004

2- Faces of Vanderbilt LifeFlight

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Sandy Jones/Photo courtesy Vanderbilt LifeFlight

2- Faces of Vanderbilt LifeFlight

Sandy Jones

Sandy Jones knew that she wanted to help care for sick people since she was a small child.

Her desire to reach out to those in need, to comfort those suffering and provide care has served her well during the past 10 years that she has been a flight nurse with LifeFlight.

Jones actually started with LifeFlight when the program began 20 years ago, as a flight communications supervisor. She grew professionally and personally and left LifeFlight to pursue a career as a paramedic, and eventually graduated from nursing school at Columbia State Community College.

It was there she had classes with fellow nursing student Jeanne Yeatman, who would also become a LifeFlight nurse and program director.

Jones returned to Vanderbilt to work as a nurse in the Emergency Department, and after a few years she accepted a position with LifeFlight.

But her career in health care began long before she ever thought about LifeFlight. When she was 18, she went to school and emerged as a licensed emergency medical technician. She then entered the U.S. Army and flew with the medivac unit out of Fort Campbell.

“I love my work as much as the first day that I started,” Jones says. “The people, my passion for the pre-hospital field, and the reputation of the flight program at Vanderbilt make every day exciting and new.”

In addition to her work at LifeFlight, Jones is active in several non-profit agencies, all of which have an impact on the health care system.

She is president of the Tennessee Hemophilia and Other Bleeding Disorders Foundation (TH&BDF), a position she holds dear to her heart. In 1995, she lost her husband to HIV contracted from a contaminated blood product meant to treat his hemophilia.

Jones says her efforts for the foundation are important for providing a better quality of life for those affected by bleeding disorders and for promoting greater assurance of future treatment safety. Her experience with the community that deals most intimately with the trauma of hemophilia and other bleeding disorders has led her to become involved in helping those who suffer, including victims and families.

“THBDF provides services at no cost to children and others with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders,” she explained. “It also serves as an advocate for the medical, financial and social well-being of those affected by hepatitis, HIV and AIDS.”

She also works tirelessly with the Children's Emergency Care Alliance and EMS for Children, and is involved in training other pre-hospital care providers in new emergency care techniques.

But Jones, like many of the LifeFlight nurses, downplays her involvement in the community, and stresses the programs that she is involved with more so than her involvement.

“All nurses are given a gift,” she says. “I do not believe in just a ‘regular’ nurse. My gift is the ability to work in an emergent situation, and it’s what I do best. Other nurses work with terminally ill children, or our aging population. All nurses are unique in what they do and the gift they offer.”

In 2003, Jones was selected by The Tennessee Ambulance Service Organization as the 2003 Paramedic of the Year. Previously, she received the Katz-Mason Award from the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association as the 1999 National Flight Nurse of the Year.

An avid horse rider, Jones has two children and stays busy with her family. She owns a small farm in Williamson County and keeps about ten horses on the farm, including some Tennessee Walking Horses.