Sarah Allen, a Tonopah native, and advocate for rural healthcare recently received the Nevada Ambulance Association Star of Life Award.
Tonopah has been struggling with access to health care services in recent years after the Nye Regional Medical Center closed its doors in 2015 due to a dire financial situation. Non-profit healthcare network Renown Health had opened a telemedicine clinic in Tonopah in June 2016 but the facility didn’t have a full-time doctor on site.
Following the hospital closure, Allen has left her job at the intensive care unit in Las Vegas to help alleviate the situation in Tonopah where she worked as a flight nurse for Life Guard International.
During her tenure with Life Guard International, Allen had to be on-call 24/7 and travel to remote areas to reach accidents and medical emergencies in sometimes unpredictable weather conditions. As a flight nurse, she stabilized, ground transported to awaiting medevac airplanes and also accompanied them to hospitals.
In a recent phone interview, Allen said she cried when she received the award.
“When I read what was written about me, it made me sit down and I was very tearful. Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you do until you look back,” she said.
Allen was one of the 19 emergency medical professionals from across the state who were honored as part of the Nevada Stars, a program that pays tribute “to the dedication of these heroes while shining light on the critical role EMS plays in our healthcare infrastructure,” according to the Nevada Ambulance Association’s website.
Allen said it’s been “hard-breaking” trying to advocate for the Tonopah’s community and bring healthcare services there.
“Since the company ( Life Guard International ) pulled out a year ago, I’ve written to every lawmaker, I can think of, I spoke at county commissioner’s meetings, hospital board meetings, town board meetings trying to advocate for this community. … I’m trying to do everything I can to bring some kind of care for this community,” Allen said.
On the Nevada Ambulance website, an excerpt accompanying Allen’s award details how she made a difference in many cases when she had to handle critical patients.
One instance describes how she most recently, Allen’s team arrived at a remote airfield where a volunteer ambulance crew tried to resuscitate an asthmatic boy in arrest. The passage said Allen “was instrumental in turning a tragedy into a saved life” and delivering the boy to the Children’s Hospital 220 miles away in Las Vegas.
Although Allen currently works as a flight nurse for AirMed International in Las Vegas. Still, she doesn’t plan on leaving Tonopah. She currently works on her nurse practitioner’s license at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
After finishing her degree, she plans to continue providing healthcare in Tonopah.
“I love this town, I love these people, and I know in my heart they deserve more than they have right now,” she said.