“My son was transported and the team gave us jobs so we could be distracted. I was very impressed by and grateful for Life Flight.”
“Having the Life Flight in The Dalles saved my husband's life. We still have a long road to recovery and are being transferred to Denver's Craigs Institute on Monday after 8 weeks in the hospital. We are grateful he is alive. I would love to be an advocate for Life Flight.”
“I was very impressed by the care and concern from the entire flight team from the time they all came into my room until they all left me in the OHSU Hospital Room. They also called the OHSU Hospital to check on my situation. Even the nurse that was taking care of me was impressed. He wanted to know what I had done to cause this attention. The flight team was wonderful.”
“Thanks to all for getting me safely and quickly to Portland Adventist. Getting me help so quickly saved my life and minimized the damage to my heart. Please extend my thanks and appreciation to the entire team."
A living testimonial to fate, faith and the benefits of exceptional EMS and hospital teamwork
One of Chuck Ewing’s greatest pleasures is hunting for elk in the Oregon backcountry, so he was looking forward to a November 2011 hunting trip with a good friend and his son, TJ. Chuck was in his mid-50’s, very active and by all appearances in great shape. So it was a surprise when he woke up unable to breathe five days into their Tygh Valley trip.
His friend carried him to their truck and his son drove as fast as conditions allowed toward Wamic, Oregon some eight miles away. While cell phone coverage is poor in the area, they were able to connect with 911. They met the volunteer EMS crew of Chris Beeler, David Andre and Tom McDowell from the Wamic Rural Fire Protection District in front of the local store. Their initial assessment was that Chuck had an irregular pulse and pressure in the middle of his chest, LFN was immediately activated and the helicopter crew at the Dallesport base was requested to rendezvous at a nearby landing zone for rapid transfer. After conducting a weather check, pilot William Pielli flew to the landing zone in 17 minutes with the LFN clinical team of Brent Dalbec and Michael Coggins. They inserted an IV, noted Chuck’s labile blood pressure and abdominal distress, and took steps needed to stabilize him during transport.
A decision was made to transport Chuck to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, where a cardiac team was standing by. He was rushed into emergency surgery upon landing. Chuck’s wife, Debra, was told at the outset there was a 40% chance he would not pull through. Once the surgery was underway, the cardiothoracic surgeon discovered Chuck experienced an ascending aortic dissection and the force of the rupture blew out veins and arteries in Chuck’s neck and femoral area and affected his kidney. The family was warned his chances of survival were now very slight. The surgery took more than five hours and the surgical team induced hypothermia and put him on cardiac bypass for 28 minutes to repair portions of his dissected aorta.
As friends and family said prayers for Chuck at Sunday church services, physicians at the hospital were concerned about continued bleeding, organs shutting down, and weak vital signs. They were also worried the loss of blood to the brain would impact Chuck’s cognition. Then to everyone’s surprise, Chuck’s vital signs started to improve within an hour and the bleeding stopped. The surgical team then closed and his organs started functioning better as the day progressed. It also soon appeared his brain function was going to be comparable to pre-surgery levels. Debra brought Chuck home just seven days later and today he is living his life much like he did before the hunting trip.
Chuck Ewing’s story is a great example of teamwork from multiple agencies leading to a positive outcome. Every thoughtful step worked just in time and as Chuck told his son on that fateful Sunday morning, “I’m not ready to go yet.”
Terry’s pain began to change and was now in his left arm, radiating from his wrist to his shoulder. He still had no chest pain, and decided to return to the living room to sit in his lounge chair for comfort. Within minutes after returning to the living room, Joyce came out and found Terry on the floor, suffering excruciating pain down his left arm. She called their neighbors who came over and called 911.
Within minutes, McMinnville Fire Department paramedics arrived. While setting up their equipment, the paramedics placed Terry on oxygen, started an IV and gave Aspirin and Nitroglycerin to help treat Terry’s chest pain. At the same time, paramedics did an EKG of Terry’s heart which confirmed he was having a heart attack.
McMinnville paramedics knew it was a long drive to get Terry to a hospital with a cath lab. They also knew Life Flight Network could get him there much faster. They called for a Life Flight helicopter to rapidly transport Terry to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he could get the help he needed.
McMinnville Fire Department was able to establish a landing zone in Terry’s driveway and Life Flight landed just feet from his front door. Terry was not doing well and was quickly loaded into the helicopter. Just minutes after taking off, Terry went into cardiac arrest. CPR was started and Terry was defibrillated. No change. The flight crew resumed CPR and administered Epinephrine.
Terry was defibrillated again, this time he regained a pulse, but he quickly went back into cardiac arrest and he was defibrillated again. No change. CPR resumed and he was given another dose of Epinephrine, but this time he regained a pulse and started breathing on his own.
Upon landing at Providence St. Vincent’s hospital, Terry was quickly evaluated in the Emergency Department and taken into the cath lab. The doctors found a blockage in Terry’s heart and over the course of two days; Terry received 3 stents, re-opening blood flow and oxygen delivery to his heart. Terry spent a total of 5 days in the hospital.
Two months later, Terry says he still feels mildly tender from the CPR, but also says he “feels better than before my heart attack.” He is so grateful for the quick response and intervention by Yamhill County dispatchers, McMinnville Fire Department and Life Flight Network, as well as the expertise and care given to him at Providence St. Vincent Hospital. He and his wife know he would not be alive today if they’d driven him to the hospital instead of calling 911. Terry knows there is “something else for him. A gift of life with something else for him to do”, thanks to the team of people who saved his life.
The phone rang at 2:00 a.m. It seemed like a nightmare unfolding for David Trumbo’s grandparents, as they answered the chilling call and listened as a Saint Alphonsus' Emergency Department nurse explained that David was there – desperately fighting for his life.
David, a high school senior at the time, was involved in a very serious motor vehicle crash. He was one of three passengers in a compact car that had swerved to avoid hitting another car and ended up in a one-car rollover. The driver was later convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The fact David survived the crash was nothing short of a miracle, since he had been partially ejected from the vehicle by the force of the crash. Seconds counted for his survival and the Saint Alphonsus Life Flight crew quickly responded to the call to transport him to the Saint Alphonsus Trauma Center. An assessment of his condition conveyed the severity of the situation: David’s internal organs were seriously damaged because the car had rolled and landed on top of him; both lungs were punctured; his spleen and liver were lacerated. David also suffered a severe head injury and the swelling and bleeding were so profuse all of his injuries couldn’t be determined until he arrived at the hospital.
Just when David’s family felt it couldn’t get any worse, a visit from the surgeon indicated his blood was not circulating properly. The only way to save him would be through emergency surgery utilizing extraordinary measures to help his blood circulate through his body. The surgeon had described it as “an ugly surgery” – due to some of the steps that had to be taken to help get his blood to circulate - but they were measures which would be necessary to save his life. When the surgeon appeared again two hours later, they learned the surgery had been a success and David’s circulation was good. It was encouraging news!
Even with these successes, it would be weeks before the physician would suggest David might make it through his traumatic ordeal. Steadily, with patience and perseverance, David began to improve. It was a very lengthy process - six weeks in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and three additional weeks as an in-patient - but it was helpful just knowing he was making progress. Through it all, David was never alone during his hospital stay at Saint Alphonsus. His family and friends were constantly by his side, offering encouragement and support until his discharge home that July.
Today, David has returned to the everyday pleasures of life. While he maintains he has always believed in miracles, he truly believes his life was spared for some special reason. The fact he was given a second chance has inspired him to live with a newfound view—life is truly fragile…and it can change in an instant.
For David, it’s also an exciting time. He is preparing to go to college and seeking a career that involves helping others – as an acknowledgement and tribute to those who helped save his own life. At this time, David is exploring interests in the field of nursing or physical therapy.
Another focus of his story and one David especially wants to share with the teens in the community is to “…recognize there are others who are making wrong choices and you can do the right thing …andbe responsible.” The tragic accident has changed David in many ways, but he also has learned one person can make a big difference in the lives of many others.
One cold, dark January morning in Twin Falls, Idaho, Katie Juker left her home to walk to school. Katie was crossing the street in a crosswalk and was hit by a Ford Bronco—bouncing off its windshield and landing 54 feet away. The Bronco was traveling over 30 miles per hour. A bystander dialed 911 and paramedics arrived to find Katie initially unconscious. She wasn't breathing well and the paramedics immediately took her to the Emergency Department at Magic Valley Regional Medical Center.
Within an hour she was transported by Saint Alphonsus Life Flight to the Saint Alphonsus Trauma Center in Boise, Idaho. Within 42 minutes, Katie was on the operating table. Katie had many skull fractures, and during surgery, two blood clots were removed from her brain. Her injuries were so severe she required a 12-day stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Katie was surviving, but her outcome was unknown. Traumatic brain injury is known to have uncertain, and often grim, outcomes. After 11 days, she had improved and was removed from the ventilator. She immediately began talking—something many patients do not do. Patients with brain injuries also usually have trouble swallowing, but not Katie. When her mom began to feed her Jell-O, Katie took the spoon out of her hand and shoveled the entire clear liquid diet down. Basically, Katie did her own swallow evaluation because both Mom and the nurse weren't brave enough to take the spoon out of her hand.
Katie was soon transferred out of ICU; spent a couple of days on the neurological floor and then began her rehabilitation program. Food is life for many of us, so imagine how Katie felt losing her sense of smell and taste. Eating had become a chore because Katie had lost her appetite until one day her dad popped popcorn. At that point, her sense of smell started to return. And chocolate was one of the first things she could taste. During her stay, Katie became quite good at making her favorite root beer floats for everyone—doctors, nurses and staff.
After achieving her goals for rehab, Katie was able to return back home to Twin Falls. "The odds were against me my entire stay at Saint Alphonsus," said Katie. "But I'm very strong. I'm a survivor. I received incredible care and I'm a miracle."
Katie now lives in Georgia with her husband, Tom, who is stationed at Fort Gordon. She is currently attending Augusta State University, working towards a degree in Social Work. Her goal is to one day work with patients and their families who are affected by Traumatic Brain Injury.
When a helicopter passes overhead, most of us don’t give it much thought. But for Mary Lynn Matlock, that distinctive sound is a reminder she is living out her second chance at life. It’s been 20 years since Life Flight gave her that chance.
Neighborhoods now block the path once popular with bikers and hikers and kids seeking fun. Two decades ago Table Rock was a remote attraction for outdoor enthusiasts, as it attracted Mary Lynn (May) and her friends on that September afternoon. May was a 17 year old BSU student, fresh out of National Guard basic training. She, her roommate Deb, and a few male friends were feeling adventurous that day. The decision was made to conquer the natural obstacle course to the top of Table Rock. May recalls it was a dare that prodded her to go along while Deb chose to wait in the car at the foot of the trail.
Not dressed for the occasion, May’s unlaced Keds provided little traction on the trail. The path of loose dirt and rocks wandered up the face of the hill. As they neared the top the teens came upon a section of path washed out by rain. The break in the trail revealed jagged rocks nearly sixty feet below. Continuing the journey required a leap across the opening. Not much of a challenge for young, tall boys. But the much shorter May, was tall on confidence when she took her turn and jumped.
As she landed on the other side the soft bank gave way. After a short slide down the crevasse, remarkably, she caught herself. May was clawing her way back up to the trail when the rain loosened embankment crumbled once more. This time May took a free-fall to the rocks below. Her landing took its toll. She had missed the sharpest rocks that would certainly have impaled her, but May lay broken and bleeding and far from help.
In 1987 cell phones were not a common accessory so calling for help required a telephone. At the bottom of the trail Deb heard the sound of her friend’s body hitting the rocks, and then she heard the screams. From her position Deb could not see what had happened, but the screaming convinced her it must be bad. They needed help and it was up to her to get it.
Deb drove to the first house she saw, ran to the door and pleaded to use the phone. She was turned away. Frantically she ran to the next house where the call for help was made. The paramedics arrived quickly and made their way up the trail to the injured teen. The damage they could see was considerable; compound fractures to her arms, broken pelvis, facial lacerations and bleeding. But as serious as those injuries appeared, they could not see the worst of it.
Near her heart was a tear in her aorta. The largest artery in her body was slowly draining her of blood. Her time was running out and no one knew. But the paramedics could not safely remove her from where she lay because of the treacherous terrain. They knew it was time to call Life Flight.
The medical transport helicopter was quickly dispatched and managed to land near the dying girl. Within minutes May was receiving urgent care at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center. It didn’t take long for the Emergency Department (ED) team to realize May had problems other than broken bones. The damaged heart was diagnosed and before the night was over May underwent surgery to repair her heart and shattered bones.
As the drama played out, the attending ED physician told her parents the odds were 95 to 5 against May’s survival. But 27 days later, May left the hospital. And today she is here to tell this story; a story that would have had a different ending without Life Flight. In May’s words, “Had Life Flight not been around I never would have survived.”
Now an avid cyclist, May and her husband, Brent, occasionally find themselves riding down remote stretches of road in rural Idaho. That is one reason why May and Brent are devout Life Flight members. “We pay our $50 member fee each year. We would pay a whole lot more: it’s a priceless service,” May states without hesitation.
Brent adds, “Thank God for Life Flight…that they were able to be there. They named it right, that’s for sure - Life Flight.”
Snow was glistening in the morning sunshine as Jay Reinke drove his snowmobile through the Magic Mountain region near Burley, ID on March 31, 2005. Miles of fluffy powder blanketed 7,000 foot-high mountain peaks in the popular winter playground and Jay eagerly looked forward to a full day of sledding as much terrain as possible.
As he guided his snowmobile across a hillside, Jay was ejected from the machine and hurled into the air. The snowmobile had slammed into a rock buried beneath the snow.
"The impact popped up the back of the sled like a teeter-totter and I flew into the air, did a front summersault and landed on the back of my neck and shoulders. It folded me in half. My legs hit me in the face and I heard a loud pop."
That loud pop was a compression fracture on the T12 vertebra in the middle of his back. As he and doctors at Saint Alphonsus would discover hours later, the vertebra had crumbled after impact and caused nerve damage to his spinal cord.
"I thought I was paralyzed and I was yelling 'no, no, no!'" Jay said. "I couldn't move my legs or my hips and there was excruciating pain down each leg. I could only move my arms."
As he lay on his back with his head pointing downhill, Jay waited for the sight or sound of his brother, Chuck, who had been snowmobiling several hundred yards below. "Chuck saw my sled coming back down the hill with me not on it."
Chuck immediately drove up the hill to locate Jay, but buried his machine in the snow. He trudged on foot through waist-deep snow the rest of the way up the mountain.
As soon as Chuck arrived, Jay handed him a cellular phone from his jacket. "I told him to call Life Flight," Jay said. "I was already a Life Flight member, but I never thought I'd have to use it."
Soon after emergency services were reached by cell phone, Jay could hear the rumble of a Life Flight helicopter coming into the valley. Within minutes, the helicopter found a landing spot and Flight Paramedic James Pennington and Flight Nurse Colleen Mullins attended to Jay. After a brief stop at Magic Valley Regional Medical Center in Twin Falls for tests and x-rays, Jay was flown to Saint Alphonsus where he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
The next morning, April 1, Neurosurgeon Doug Smith, M.D., performed an 11-hour surgery on Jay. "He removed what was left of my vertebra and replaced it with a titanium cage," Jay said. "At that point, I felt very fortunate to be alive and not paralyzed. About 90 percent of the time, people with injuries of this type end up partially paralyzed."
Following the surgery, Jay spent two nights in ICU, a week on the 6 West Neuro-Recovery floor and three weeks in rehab. All told, Jay spent 31 days at Saint Alphonsus.
"There were times when the pain prevented me from getting out of bed," Jay said. The shattered vertebra injured his spinal cord enough to cause numbness and tingling in his chest and back—even to this day. "It hurt just to breathe. I felt busted in half. When your whole body hurts, you don't want to move because moving means pain."
Following his discharge from Saint Alphonsus, Jay wore a clamshell brace around his upper body for five weeks to help stabilize his spine and back. He also underwent weekly outpatient rehab visits with Saint Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services (STARS) for several months. Even today, he must see Saint Alphonsus rehab doctors bimonthly to manage his progress.
"March 31 was my day," he said. "That's the day that my life changed. Since then, I think more about the person I am, the father or husband that I am."
He said another constant in his life will be his Saint Alphonsus Life Flight membership. Jay plans to be just as active as he was before by skiing, riding his all-terrain vehicle and yes, snowmobiling again.
"I look at it as support for a program that helped me. It helps with better training, better equipment, better helicopters. Any way I can support them, I will. Any way I can help only makes the program better."
“I have been in EMS for 17 years, Life Flight is by far the best I’ve EVER worked with. Crews have it together & fit “hand-in-glove” with the ground crews. Keep up the good work!”
“The crew was professional and courteous. They were very communicative when relaying information in regards to PT outcome.”
“I have been on scene when Life Flight has been used (about 5-7 times). They have always acted professionally at all times. I have assisted with 3 different crews, since you have moved to Dallesport. You have been a blessing to our community since you arrived.”
“I thought the crew that assisted with our patient was great. Life Flight had landed before ambulance had arrived at the landing zone.”
"It was a professional and smooth handoff. We appreciated the quick response, quick loading and professionalism of the crew."
“What a great team. Very professional, concerned and friendly. They did a great job of putting my patient and family at ease and informed. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work.”
“Life Flight is always great to work with. They were en route VERY FAST, which is what we like.”
"We very much appreciate the service provided by Life Flight and it has made a huge difference in the confidence we have to safely and quickly transport our patient when needed. Thank you!"
“Thank you for another great interaction. We continue to have above average experiences with your facility and employees”
“Flight nurse was very kind & compassionate with the 14 month old patient.”
“Thank you Life Flight... We appreciate you!”
“Have always been very happy with expertise and turnaround time of Life Flight”
“Dispatch was great. Love the Life Flight team. I always get the best service when I have to call for the bird."
“Very helpful in coordination of care and transport.”
“Great Turnaround. Crew very friendly, efficient and knowledgable.”