Home Animals From Fight Nurse to MedAire CEO: Joan Sullivan Garrett

From Fight Nurse to MedAire CEO: Joan Sullivan Garrett


Joan Sullivan Garrett is the Founder and Chairman of MedAire, the world’s largest integrated aviation and maritime provider of medical, travel, and safety services.

Her company is your safety net — a traveler’s best friend. You may not know that when you are 36,000 feet in the air or the middle of an ocean, MedAire is a phone call away. Suppose you have a heart attack or some other type of medical emergency while traveling. In that case, Joan’s company provides ground-based emergency physicians who talk crews through the crisis — in real-time, instantaneously, and globally. For instance, whether you are flying over Europe or voyaging toward the Mediterranean, MedAire is there… and everywhere… due to the miracle of telemedicine.

So, how did a flight nurse build the world’s first global emergency response center? 

As a flight nurse, all Joan wanted to do was save lives. She never set out to be an entrepreneur. Yet, during a rescue mission in 1984, the loss of a young patient compelled her to — somehow, someway — improve remote emergency medicine. What followed was Joan’s pioneering of telemedicine, which some call aeromedicine, through her startup. Only satellite communications and teletype existed in those days, and it wasn’t easy to provide a worldwide, lifesaving service. But nearly forty years later, MedAire remains the gold standard for onboard medical emergencies around the world, saving untold lives.

Joan has written her autobiography, One Life Lost, Millions Gained, available on Amazon. It’s much more than a book on business. It captures Joan’s journey through a difficult childhood, her Irish roots, her flight nursing escapades, and the challenges of single motherhood while building her company, not to mention the glass ceiling of the 1980s of which she rose above. She shares some jaw-dropping adventures along the way. Visit her website to learn more.


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