Freedom Wing critical care nurse volunteers during pandemic

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ruben Rios
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing
Countries around the world have been actively trying to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak. While the curve in the US have been showing signs of decline, overall, for weeks, it seems the number of cases have decreased by about a third lower than they have been since late March/early April, according to statistics from the John Hopkins University of Medicine website.

There is no doubt that these numbers are due, in part, to the hard work of our country’s medical professionals. One such professional is Captain Aideen Ky Briones, 514th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, immunization clinic officer in charge, at the 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

In a military capacity, Briones oversees the availability and distribution of vaccines for the wing during unit training assemblies, particularly during the flu season. In her civilian life however, Briones is a board certified, critical care registered nurse, with a Master of Science in nursing.

“When I was younger, I wanted to become a teacher,” said Briones. “I’m glad I listened to my mother about pursuing a nursing career instead. In the nursing field, there are different avenues to choose from like research, education, and clinicals.”

Briones normally works in New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, N.Y., as an interventional radiology charge nurse. However, when the coronavirus began sweeping the nation Briones wanted to help anyway she could.

“One of the campuses got hit so bad that they were running short on staff,” said Briones. “I volunteered to go with some colleagues to work in the intensive care unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, N.Y. for eight weeks during the surge of Covid-19 pandemic,” said Briones.

If that wasn’t enough, Briones wanted to fight on the front lines as a medic in a military capacity but was unable due to her civilian commitments.

“When the squadron asked if I would want to be deployed I wanted to sign up but I was unable to do so because I was needed at my hospital in the ICU,” said Briones. “There just weren’t enough nurses to help out at the hospital. I may not have been deployed with the military but I was helping the cause as best as I could.”

It should go without saying that being a nurse during a pandemic is undoubtedly difficult and for Briones, that is sometimes the case.

“I just take it a day at a time, day by day,” said Briones. “During my eight weeks at Lawrence, there was no time to deflect or mourn. It was constant, non-stop work. Talking it out with coworkers or friends and family would help sometimes.”

Still, Briones finds a silver lining in genuinely enjoying being able to help others.

“The thing that got me through was waking up everyday knowing I could help the families of those who were sick,” said Briones. “Even though they weren’t able to take care of their sick loved ones, I was. Everyday I went to work, I felt like I had a purpose.”

Briones has a message for her colleagues in the field who may be struggling through these difficult times.

“Every day is a new day,” said Briones. “It’s going to be a challenge, and while you may win or lose, laugh or cry, at the end of the day, every day is a new day. Even with the crisis in front of us, we need to keep going, move on to help others, and most of all, pray.”