Survivors Network seeks to be a resource that enables resiliency in the high-stress, high-consequence critical care transport environment

Article courtesy of the Survivors Network

What is a Survivor?

If you look up the definition of the word “survivor” you read things like, “to remain alive or in existence;” “to carry on despite hardships;” or “to cope with or persevere after a trauma or setback.” For the purposes of the Survivors Network for the Air Medical Community, we employ the broadest definition of the word “survivor.”

There are medical crewmembers, communication specialists, pilots, mechanics, administrators, programs, support staff, families, friends, our colleagues in public safety, and communities who are “survivors” in their own right, based on their experiences. Further, the cumulative stress, secondary or vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue that air medical and emergency medical response professionals may experience over the course of their career make them “survivors” too.

We have an industry full of “survivors.” 

Everybody has a story ... many stories, really, that could benefit others in terms of safety and survivorship. If you have been through traumatic experiences, near-misses, incidents, or accidents, we encourage you to recognize the impact those have had on you. Recognize that, even though we are the rescuers and caregivers it is imperative that we take care of ourselves and allow others to give us a hand once in a while.
Know that your story matters.

Individual responses to trauma vary. But the “armor” that we shield ourselves with to do this work is really not as invincible and as impermeable as we may think it is. Sometimes we don’t realize that until that armor—and our mental or physical health—is compromised in ways we never would have predicted.
Professional help can provide you with the tools to mitigate the negative long-term effects of critical incident stress and post-traumatic stress. Facing your own trauma is courageous...there is nothing weak about it.

Accidents continue to happen and more and more people are “surviving.” But we need more data and more stories to understand how to help reduce both physical and psychological injuries.

Along with being restored to their highest level of functioning possible, many survivors want to help prevent what they went through from happening to others. Tell your story. In doing so, you do more than survive or merely exist. You thrive again. You help others. Your resilience takes root and grows, and that inspires others in the process.

We invite all those with whom we serve to join us in promoting safety and resilience: pilots, mechanics, communication specialists, flight and ground medical crew, first responders, volunteers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement, hospital staff, administrators, support staff, and all who dedicate their lives to serving others, along with their families.

At the Survivors Network, we have a profound respect for your experiences, as it is your unique knowledge that will help others learn ... and live well.

The Survivors Network’s Mission: To promote individual and organizational resilience by providing a support network, education, and resources to air and surface medical transport organizations, personnel and their families with regard to industry risk mitigation, preparedness, response, and long-term individual/family and program recovery. This mission will be accomplished through raising awareness, providing education, conducting research, and creating a support network with the ultimate goal of promoting safety and resilience.

Visit the Survivors Network at


Meet Krista Haugen, ACCT Board Member and founder of the Survivors Network

Krista Haugen, RN, MN, CEN, is a former flight nurse who survived a helicopter crash while on duty in 2005, one month on the heels of a fatal crash at her program in which three of her friends and colleagues perished. She since co-founded the Survivors Network for Air & Surface Medical Transport, served as a volunteer for the Air Medical Memorial, and is a former board member of the National EMS Memorial Service. Krista now serves on the ACCT Board of Directors as a special, non-voting member.

Krista presently works as an emergency nurse and has twenty-five years of nursing experience including emergency, critical care, and air medical transport. Her special interests include Crew Resource Management & Human Factors, Just Culture, medical transport risk mitigation, secondary trauma, post-traumatic stress, and resilience in emergency/critical care professionals.


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