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Steven Long on duty at AeroClinic

Steven Long said one of his most vivid childhood memories is traveling past Atlanta's airport with his father when he was 4 years old.

"I just have this image in my mind ... I've always been interested in the development of the airport," he said.

But Long isn't a pilot, or a ramp agent, or an airport planner. Following the footsteps of his father, in a way, Long is a doctor with Hartsfield-Jackson's AeroClinic. "I sort of came full circle," he said.

The world's busiest airport serves about 250,000 passengers a day and employs approximately 50,000 people. The AeroClinic is just one of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's on-site amenities for travelers and airport workers.

Long has been at the clinic, which is located on the third floor of the atrium, for approximately six months and said he finds his job interesting.

"The demographics are quite varied," he said. "You do not know what is going to walk through these doors."

Long said his patients include domestic passengers, international passengers, airline employees and concessions employees.

"My initial training was in neurosurgery," he said, adding that he has extensive emergency room experience.

But working at the AeroClinic, Long said, is unique.

He said when a non-English-speaking passenger is under his care, for example, the task is challenging but he assures the patient's illness or injury is treated to the best of his abilities.

Long recalls a Brazilian passenger once brought to the clinic with a broken ankle.

The woman was flying to New York from Brazil to visit her family. While aboard the flight, the woman tripped and fractured her ankle, Long said.

He said that because the woman didn't speak English, her family members in Brazil were contacted so they could assist the clinic in communicating with her loved ones in New York. A translator at the airport was involved in the process, he said.

"Sometimes you've got to think creatively when you see someone that doesn't speak the language," Long said.

Before he releases a patient, Long said there are a variety of airport-related situations that he must keep in mind to ensure their safety. The Brazilian woman, for example, had X-rays done on her ankle so he could determine whether she was in a condition to travel on a plane and endure possible flight delays.

"People have head injuries, neck injuries ... you have to expect the unexpected," Long said.

According to Long, before releasing both Hartsfield-Jackson and airline employees from the clinic and into the bustling airport, he assesses their medical situation along with their job responsibilities in order to determine whether they are able to work. Long said when airline employees are under his care, he often communicates with their safety supervisor or an individual within the company responsible for coordinating their medical care.

"It is a little bit different when we interact with the airlines," he explained. "We are working as a team."

Long said he sees U.S. military troops at the clinic as well.

"We are increasingly being a medical evaluation center for them before they go on," he said.

Long said he was born at Atlanta Medical Center, previously known as Georgia Baptist Medical Center, and was raised in Stone Mountain. He said that while his father was an ophthalmologist, he was also interested in airplanes and obtained a private pilot's license.

Long said that as a child, he would frequently accompany his father to watch airplanes land at local airports, including DeKalb Peachtree Airport, Fulton County Airport, and Hartsfield-Jackson.

Long said he graduated from Tucker High School in the late 1980s.

He said he was accepted to Emory University in Atlanta and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in the early 1990s.

Long said he decided to stay in Atlanta because his father was ill. His father passed away before he entered graduate school at Columbia University in New York City.

Long said he enjoyed his time at Columbia, and experienced several memorable moments.

"One day we were treating patients that were international diplomats that were in the news, that were CFOs, to being in Harlem Hospital [Harlem Hospital Center] treating patients," he said.

Long said he enjoys the unpredictable nature of his career, and feels welcomed at AeroClinic.