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Flight nurse honoured
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 19, 2008
"It just gets under your skin," O'Connor said. "You either really like it or you don't, and since the time I arrived I loved it.
"I love the lifestyle I live. I love the work and the people I get to work with.
"It's been a good quality of life for me. I'm not going to go anywhere."
The medevac nurse and nursing graduate of Durham College is one of six recipients of the 2008 Ontario Premier's Award for outstanding college graduates.
The awards honour Ontario college graduates who have made important social and economic contributions in Canada and around the world.
O'Connor was nominated in the health category and is the fourth Durham College graduate to receive the award.
When O'Connor received a phone call telling her she was named a recipient of the award, she wondered if they had called the wrong number.
"I was very surprised," she said with a laugh.
"I'm sure there are many other people who are more deserving than me, but it's an honour. I never expected it."
For more than two decades O'Connor has served Northerners by flying to remote communities, helping stabilize and prepare patients for flights to receive medical treatment.
She said while the job is demanding, it's worthwhile when you can help someone in need.
"It's long hours, but whenever you can help a person - you help them get from Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife or whatever you're doing - that's the reward knowing you've helped that person," she said.
"No matter how sick of your job you get, because it happens, that keeps you going. You get a call knowing you made a difference to a person's life.
"That's extremely rewarding and you want to keep doing it to the best of your ability."
O'Connor, founder of Medflight Ltd. in 1992, a medical air evacuation service in the NWT and Nunavut, was named to the Order of Canada in December 2007 for her dedication and achievements working as a paramedic in the North.
She said while she is honoured to be a recipient of this most recent award, the people she works with are important to her successes and need to be recognized as well.
"It's really great to do the job I do," she said. "Everyone I work with deserves an award like this just as much as I do. They work hard and put in the same long hours I do to get the job done.
"All the medics and nurses deserve thanks as well for their dedication."
When asked about what advice she could offer to those just starting out in the profession, she had these words:
"Learn as much as you can and each call you do just look at what you've done and think how you can do it better," she said.
"Work day-in and day-out to be the best you can be."