Saginaw flight nurse honored after final flight

Longest serving flight nurse retires.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:20 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) - The longest-serving flight nurse in Michigan was honored after her final flight on Tuesday, May 30.

“Never in a million years would have expected this. I work with the best,” said flight nurse Lori Smith.

When Smith took off for her final flight with Ascension St. Mary’s FlightCare in Saginaw on Tuesday, she was surprised to return to a tribute fit for a hero.

Related: Michigan’s longest-serving flight nurse hangs up her wings

“I’ve worked with Lori for about 10 and a half years and everybody loves Lori. She’s the glue, right, to hold the program together,” said Cedric Patmon, lead pilot for FlightCare.

Smith is a highly trained registered nurse and a licensed paramedic with intensive critical care experience. She is also the longest-serving flight nurse in Michigan. After more than three decades of saving lives, the Saginaw Fire Department honored her with a water salute when her medevac landed.

“To honor a long career like that, that’s pretty awesome. And we were very pleased to be asked to do it,” said Saginaw Fire Department Batallion Chief James Champney.

Patmon said the farewell is their way of giving back to someone that has done so much for others.

“If somebody was having a birthday actually, or something special in their life, Lori would go out of her way to do something like this for them,” Patmon said.

St. Mary’s FlightCare has been in service since 1987 and has transported more than 12,000 patients. Smith joined the team in 1989 and has impacted many of those lives.

“I’d have to count them up honestly; 34 years and when she first started there, we’re doing close to 400 a year. So, I’d have to do the math on that,” Patmon said.

Smith said that she is looking forward to spending more time with her family, but as she heads into retirement, she said she will remember her friends at FlightCare.

“They put their lives on the line and they go and they do it. No complaining and – maybe a little bit – but on the most part, oh, man. Best ever,” Smith said.

“Lori, we love you and we’re going to miss you, and don’t be a stranger,” Patmon said.

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