ROCKFORD, Ill. — Between the high altitudes and the highest level of healthcare is a team dedicated to world-class care.

What You Need To Know

  •  Mercyhealth celebrates 35th anniversary of REACT helicopter service
  •  The elite advanced care program puts nurses in challenging situations as they save lives in the air
  • Their longest-standing nurse, Debb Webb, is also retiring this month after 32 years of service.

"For me, it was something that from day one, I knew I wanted to do this," Mercyhealth nurse Tony Rehberg said. 

He and Deb Webb have had three-decade long careers aboard REACT, the hospital system's elite emergency helicopter service.

"It's been thrilling. It's an exciting job, I wouldn't change a second," Webb said. After 32 years, Webb, the longest standing flight nurse, said she planned to retire at the end of the month.

The skilled crew member said she remembered when REACT flew without all the state of the art digital devices and medical monitors.

"The technology has improved immensely, like our aircraft has a computer in it. It didn't have computers in it when I started," Webb said.   She also said the crew was just debuting helmets and flight jumpsuits when she began her REACT career.

"Definitely, it's moved towards a more safety type environment," Webb said.

Meanwhile, Webb said she was looking forward to letting younger generations tackle the rewarding career.

"I know I'm going to miss it. I know I am, but I got to that point where it is time to pass the torch to somebody younger at some point," she said.  "I just was lucky enough to get the best job there is," she added.

Webb said she plans to enjoy retirement but may come back and visit her crew from time to time.  She said the team really became her second family over the years. 

You can learn more about REACT and its 35th anniversary, here.