BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Every minute of every day in Birmingham, there is a medical flight team ready to fly a critically ill or injured child to Children’s of Alabama.

The Children’s Critical Care Transport Team travels to hospitals all over the southeast to pick up sick children in desperate need of further care unavailable at the hospital they are at.

When you see their helicopter in the sky, it means the team inside is on a mission to save a life. Their average trip is three hours and each case is uniquely challenging and often heartbreaking.

CBS 42’s Andrea Lindenberg spoke with members of the Critical Care Transport Team to get an inside look at how they perform their jobs.

Lindenberg: “What strikes you about the kids that are in this? You never know if you’re gonna get one who’s conscious and scared of flying and doesn’t know what’s going on or one who is not doing so well. You just never know, do you?”

Pediatric Flight Nurse Mark Rogers: “You just never know. We carry extremes on each end. There are many times I have taken a child and let the mom hold it before we’ve left because it may be the last time that mom gets to see that child alive.”

Flight Nurse Jason Peterson, who is the director of the Critical Care Transport Team, said the team transported 1,200 children last year.

Peterson: We’re taking care of the patients, the children, the babies, but we’re having to take care of their parents, their families, to some degree because you take some big guy like me who comes in, I’m a total stranger. Yes, we are primarily there to take care of your child, but we have got to build that rapport quickly and instill some confidence in the families and ensure them that we’re bringing the best that Children’s has to them to get their child back here.

Pilot Robert Ardy: When my first son was born, he was born with a heart defect so he was airlifted shortly after he was born. At that time, I had just begun flying. I’m not gonna get emotional about it, but at that point I decided I kinda wanted to end up flying for Children’s.

For the Critical Care Transport Team this is more than a job, it’s their passion.