At the Heart of the Matter
Sergeant Eddie Forrest is happy that Henry County will soon be home to an Air Evac Lifeteam medical helicopter. Eddie and his family are not Air Evac members, but they soon will be. Forrest, who works for the Henry County Sheriff's Department, was transported by the Martin, Tenn., Air Evac crew nearly one year ago. He is no stranger to heart disease - five years ago Forrest underwent surgery to place stents in his heart.
"As far as I knew, I was good," he said.
But on April 15, 2014, his heart demanded more attention.
Sheriff Monte Belew and his team secured the Henry County High School auxiliary gym to prepare for a charity game against the Paris Police Department.
"So many of us had not played in years," Belew said. "We were playing full-court when Eddie became winded and collapsed on gym floor."
Several of the deputies jumped into action. Sgt. Bruce
Alexander grabbed the Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and Investigator Adam Jenkins and Belew removed the device and prepared to shock their friend and co-worker.
"I was recently trained on how to use the AED," the sheriff said. "After we shocked him we began CPR and Eddie regained consciousness."
The Henry County Medical Center EMS arrived at the high school and took Forrest to Henry County Medical Center.
"The helicopter was already there, waiting on me," Forrest said.
The Martin Air Evac Lifeteam crew of pilot Stephen Clayton, flight nurse Reba Montgomery and flight paramedic Chad Moore flew Forrest to Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, where he underwent two surgeries and received a total of six more stents.
Forrest has been in law enforcement for 23 years, and his wife, Amanda, works for the Paris Police Department. The worst part of the whole experience, he said, was knowing that his sons witnessed their father's collapse.
"Tyler and Brandon were 9 and 11, and they were at the gym watching me practice," he said. "Amanda was at home, but she heard it on the scanner."
"I was folding clothes," Amanda recalled. "We never have the scanner turned on - you know, we like to leave work at work. But for some reason it was on."
Flight nurse Reba Montgomery called Amanda when Eddie arrived at Saint Thomas.
"We were on the way, and had made it to Dickson when she called," Amanda said. "They made it there so fast. You honestly wouldn't believe how good that made me feel. She was as nice as she could be."
Amanda is certain that had everything not fallen into place that night, her husband would not be here.
"A wonderful group of ladies really pushed to get those
AEDs, and I really want to thank them, too," she said. "Everyone involved played such an important role in saving Eddie's life."
Twila Rose, director of Henry County Medical Center EMS, said the chain of survival worked on April 15, 2014.
"It was a group effort," Rose said. "The Sheriff using the AED, the EMS crew, Air Evac and Saint Thomas West all played such important roles. The early activation of Air Evac got Eddie where he needed to be in the time he needed to get there."
Early activation of the Air Evac crew can and does save
lives. The crew is called, and if a medical helicopter is not needed, they return to base.
"Early activation is a new thing for us," Rose said. "We were able to load straight onto the helicopter and got Eddie to Saint Thomas West."
Dr. Mark Stankewicz is a cardiologist and Medical Director of the Saint Thomas Chest Pain Network.
"By advocating system-wide best practices and creating strong partnerships between air medical transport providers, local EMS and emergency physicians, critical care nurses and cardiologists, more lives are being saved due to significantly shortened time to treatment. " Stankewicz said.
"The chain of survival worked," Rose added. "Eddie is a walking, talking survivor who has the same quality of life now as he did before the cardiac arrest."
Advance, MO, couple thankful for Air Evac Lifeteam
Oct. 14, 2011 was a day my husband Larry and I had agreed would be a work day in our yard before fall truly settled in. I saw him go by on the riding lawn mower from French doors in bedroom. Then heard scratching on door from our Border Collie, Pal. I reached down to pat him and saw he had spots of blood on his head. Immediately knew that something was wrong as did not hear the mower running.
Pal and I started around the house and met Larry stumbling from the small creek that runs around our home. We had lined it with large stones to prevent erosion. Larry and the mower had gone all the way to bottom of the 20 foot embankment. Somehow Larry had managed to climb up that bank. As Larry neared, I could see his nose was severed and cartilage at base was the only thing even keeping it from completely being gone.
I immediately called 911. It took 27 minutes for the ambulance to get here as we live on a farm and our county only has a private ambulance service. EMT's loaded Larry into ambulance. He was still bleeding profusely and there wasn't any part of his face that I could see that didn't have some type of cut.
Someone -still unknown to me-made the decision to transport by helicopter. At first, it was to be to Cape Girardeau MO which is about 20 mi from our home. Later, pilot came to tell me Larry would be going on to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Though I knew the injury was serious, this was my first inkling of just how threatening this was.
Having never driven to St. Louis alone, I started out unsure of what I would be facing. So many offered to take me. But I just needed to be with my husband and daughter when she arrived.
Surgery followed later that day. Larry was intubated for the following 5 days. Drs. originally indicated we might be facing 3 weeks and extensive in-facility rehab. Ten days later we left BJH! Lots of prayers speeded up our dismissal! Can't say enough about the care BJH provided-including for me.
Today Larry is doing well. Had a huge scar on forehead, nose is held to face by a screw -scars are barely visible now. He has returned to his cattle and farm operations. Pal is now allowed to be in the house as he request.
I often think how much I would have loved to say Thank You to the Air Evac pilot. We Thank God, Air Evac, and Pal for the life we continue to enjoy. - Carol Waddle, Advance, MO
AEL's speed and skill saved my dad
My dad was in a pretty bad accident on the I-24 a couple years ago. You saved his life.
He called me and told me he thought he was hit by a semi before anyone arrived. I was in California at the time and could not get to him. Within about 40 minutes from the time he called he was in the emergency room in Nashville. He had lost consciousness due to the head injuries.
Without you, we might have lost him. Your skill and speed saved him. We are forever grateful. Thank you! - Denise Rogers, Manchester, TN
Air Evac Lifeteam is a blessing to Georgia man
I'm an over the road trucker for Swift Transport. I was delivering in Olney, Il on Fri. Nov. 11, 2011. I'd parked at the Red Rooster truck terminal & was re-estabolishing my driving time when at 3 am Sat. morning I expeirinced a heart attack - my first, and hopefully my only.
I was transported by ambulance to a local haospital where I was stablized. I was then evaced to Evansville, Ind., by Lifeteam.
I deaply appreciate the Lifeteam staff that attended to me. They were informative & kept me in a good mood. Their use of a little levity & humor mixed with their expert training made the trip enjoyable & non stressful. I wish I could remember their names, but with what was happining the memory of names is fuzzy.
I do greatly appriciate them & pray that the Lord blesses them as they do such a wonderful job.
Thank you Lifeteam from me & my family. You are a blessing. - Tim Whitfield, LaFayette, Ga.
Air Evac Lifeteam is Heaven Sent
In August of 2007, my son Preston had a horrible car accident that could have taken his life if it weren't for Air Evac Lifeteam and God.
His accident was down on Hwy 00 in the middle of a field between 2 trees. The Air Evac helicopter had to land a distance from him due to the trees. Preston had a punctured lung, which had collasped. His pelvic bone was fractured and his kidney was torn.
I know Air Evac Lifeteam crews undergo good intense training, but it ws the way they handled my son and the situation, along with their dedication, that impressed me. They handled Preston with the most loving care, and I thank them for that as I wasn't notified until hours later of his accident.
All I know is this team is Heaven sent and i thank them highly. The team is amazing! - Debbie Miniex, Farmington, MO
Air Evac Lifeteam saved my life
On Sunday night, April 7, Air Evac Lifeteam saved my life. Mexia EMS called for Air Evac immediately, all the right decisions made, their expertise and choosing to take me straight to Providence saved my life.
The Cardiologist stated I wouldn't have made it if there had been any delays. The caring attitudes, professionalism and skill will always be with me. It is difficult to express my thankfullness to all of those involved. We are blessed to have Air Evac as part of our community. Again, I will always be indebted to each of you. - P.W. Barger, Mexia Texas
Air Evac Lifeteam was my lifesaver
At 5 a.m. on October 17, 2011, while traveling to work, I crashed into a flat bed truck. The truck had run out of gas and the driver failed to remove it off the road completely. While driving at a speed of aprox. 50 mph I crashed into it without putting on my brakes, because it was dark and I didn't see the truck.
I broke all my ribs but three, cracked my sternum, damaged my lungs,liver, and spleen with internal bleeding. Worst of all my feet were broke off from the fibia and tibia and hanging without structure. My right foot was crushed my completely. I should have died and thanks to God, the sweet people who helped until the abulance arrived and the Air Evac Lifeteam crew who came to my rescue, I am alive.
They made the decision to fly me to Vanderbilt University Hospital due to my severe injuries. They saved my life because of such quick response and smart decisions. They were my life savers that scary and life-changing day. It has been more than three months now and hopefully I will walk soon. The doctors say I should be recovered in about a year.
Thank You to everyone who helped me and others like me. God Bless! - Robin Kinser, Brownsville, KY
Air Evac Lifeteam will also hold a special place in my heartAir Evac was so great with me. I experienced a floght with them in 2007. I had a Heart Attack and they were wonderful. So kind and caring. Al Wilson asked me that night if he landed that chopper ok for me and I said yes. He is my friend on facebook and these people will alway's hold a special place in my heart. They are my angels. Air Evac is number 1!! - Pam Cain, Liberty, KY
Air Evac team got me safely to care
In 2007 I had severe pain around my heart and my son rushed me to Vincennes Indiana hospital. I was taken to surgery for heart catherization and they found my problem was more then they could handle; the main artery crossing over the front of my heart had collasped at the Y.
Air Evac Lifeteam was called and my family was told I may not make it to Indianapolis alive. When the Air Evac parimedics walked into my room one of them turned to the Doctor and said "She will make it, we will make sure, because we both live within 5 miles of her and we have family that live next door to her".
Well I made it with a catherter in each leg and was unable to move for 3 days while a special non allergenic stint was made. I truely belive this was God's Plan, I work daily for the good Lord. Thank you all and may God Bless. - Mary Everett, Dugger, IN
Air Evac was our flying angel!On October 27, 2011 it will be a year since Air Evac was involved in saving my 16 year old daughter's life. My daughter was on her way to church that evening and as she was crossing HWY 412 she was hit by a 1 ton work truck doing 70 plus mph. Local paramedics arrived on the scene quickly and was calling for a "bird". They were told that none were available but all of a sudden a voice came across the radio from a Air Evac pilot on the scene of another wreck in a town 20 minutes away by car. He said we will pick her up. Within 5 minutes of her wreck I heard the chopper landing before we made it out of our house to the scene less then 200 yards away. When I heard the chopper I knew it was serious. With the extensive injuries my daughter had she would not have survived going the 45 minutes by vehicle to a trauma unit. Air Evac was our flying angel.
Today I had the privilege to watch my Senior daughter in the Homecoming parade. Thank you Air Evac you were a part of this parade today. - Leanne Smith, Oak Grove, OK
Albany woman thanks those who cared for her
On April 21, 2011 I was cutting grass and began to feel an acid burning feeling in the back of my throat. I thought i was having heartburn.I stopped the lawnmower and went into the house and got something to drink and tried to get cooled off.I stood in front of the fan and could not get cooled off.
I then started getting the dry heaves.I went to the bathroom and I ask my daughter to get me a cold wash cloth.I walked from the bathroom to the kitchen and by the time i got to the kitchen it felt like someone hitting me right in the center of my chest.I told my husband he was going to have to take me to the hospital i couldn't take it.I said come on i got to go this is killing me. So we left and he drove me to the Clinton County Hospital.
When i got there they took me straight to the back and went right to work on me. They did an EKG and determined I was having a heart problem and said I needed to be flown to another hospital.
I was scared and didn't want to fly but was told by the doctor in the ER that if i didn't fly i wouldn't make it. The Air Evac Lifeteam crew flew me from Clinton County Hospital to T.J. Samson hospital in Glasgow Ky. The crew were great to me and did everything they could to keep me from being scared. I cannot thank Air Evac Lifeteam, Dr. Simbillo and the nurses at Clinton County Hospital and Dr. Nair and allthe staff at T.J. Samson hospital for taking such good care of me.
And i truly believe that all of these people and God are the reason i am here today. THANK YOU SO MUCH AIR EVAC LIFETEAM!!! - Jerri Stark, Albany, KY
An AEL membership is the best money you'll ever spend
On June 21, 2011 I fell and broke my hip and was taken by ambulance to Scotland Co. Hospital in Memphis, MO.The ER staff called Air Evac and they said they would take me to Peoria, IL. where my wife had worked at OSF St. Francis Medical Center.
We were ready to leave and the Air Evac team got a call that 3 storm fronts were meeting in Peoria and they were grounded from there. Since I didn't want to go anywhere else we opted for a ground ambulance. Air Evac called back and said they had a fixed wing plane that could take me. They assured me it was still Air Evac and would not cost extra since I am a member.
My trip to Peoria was as comfortable as possible and I am very glad that I am a member. They have called me a home to assure me there will be no more charge to me. My wife and I recommend to everyone we know that don't have a membership that it the best money they will ever spend. - David Hayes, Memphis, MO
Arkansas man pleased with how the AEL crew took care of him
My name is Robert Rice. I am 32 years old. On September 30, 2011, I was working at my job at a police department when a truck came through the building and hit me. The rescue crew called Air evac in to transport me to Memphis to a trauma center. I was very pleased with how they took care of me. - Robert Rice, Hoxie, AR
Arkansas woman grateful for extra time with husband
My husband Terry Pearman had a heart attack and had some very serious complications. Without going into great detail, he had to moved from BRMC in Mountain Home, AR to Baptist Memorial in Little Rock, AR. To say his condition was stable would be an understatement. Various machines were keeping him alive and time was of the essense.
We could not use the Air Evac Helicopters due to the weight of the machines. But Air Evac Lifeteam's fixed wing service, operated by Eagle Med,came to the rescue. All of these men and women went above and beyond with their service and compassion during this transport. The flight was successful and my husband made it to Baptist and a couple of months later, I brought him home from Little Rock.
During the time I was in Little Rock with my husband, my family was taking care of my home. More than once one of the members of the transport team called to check on my husband. I will never be able to say enough about these men and women. They are angels in human form.
I have since lost my husband but they afforded him a fighting chance, for this I will always be grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and God Bless. - Cherie Pearman, Mountain Home, AR
College student on road to recovery thanks to AEL
April 24, 2009 started out the same as any other day for a sophomore college student. It was "dead week", the week before finals, and I decided to go back home from college for some reason.
A friend and I had decided to go drive around that Friday night and have a few beers. As the night progressed three other friends had joined us in his pickup. Around 12:00 a.m. we were apparently headed to Woodward, OK when we attempted to go around a curve with a posted speed-limit of 45mph at 92mph, according to the black-box in the pickup. Needless to say, we did not make it.
According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report the pickup skid down the ditch embankment, hit a fence, cart-wheeled, and began rolling from there. Another passenger and I were knocked unconscious and thrown 69 feet from the vehicle.
When paramedics from Arnett, OK and Shattuck, OK arrived on the scene I was unresponsive. A radio-call was made for Air Evac but they were 20 minutes out due to the need to re-fuel from a flight that they had just made.
From the scene I was transported to Newman Memorial Hospital in Shattuck where Air Evac landed to pick me up. From Shattuck I was flown to OU Trauma-One. I was at OU for around a month, chemically-paralyzed, and placed in a chemically induced coma. From OU I was transported to Select Specialties Hospital in OKC for a very short time, and from Select Specialties I was transported to Integris Baptist in OKC. I had multiple broken bones, head trauma, and severe lung trauma. I was unconscious and on life-support for 3 1/2 months in OKC.
If it had not been for the Air Evac Lifeteam out of Woodward, OK only God knows what my outcome would have been. I am now back in Stillwater, OK going to college about to enter my Senior year. Thank you Air Evac Lifeteam for being there when Seconds Count! - Jon Mann, Arnett, OK
Crew cares for daughter who was bit by a dog
We wanted to thank the Air Evac Lifeteam crew that was working the night of Sept. We were visiting family when their German Shepherd bit Hope in the face. It really all happened so fast. But everyone that came to help our baby girl was so great.
It was the scariest thing my husband and I have been through, not to mention Hope's big sister and brother. The Air Evac Lifeteam crew was really awsome and Hope wanted to give a big hug and thank you to the team for all their help. And they have our undying gratitude from all of Hope's family. - Antonia Bartram, Valley View, TX
Excellent care made me a lifetime believer in AEL
On July 25, 2012, my 13-year-old son left our house right after lunch to go riding on his dirtbike. Within 10 minutes my life changed completely when I received a phone call from a man I didn't know telling me he had hit my child with his truck.
As I arrived at the scene of the accident I could hear the sirens from the ambulance approaching. My son was laying in the road, blood dripping from his head, holding his leg. He was expressionless which was a result of the shock of the hit. The impact of the truck had knocked his helmet off, and the massive road burn had taken off the skin on the side of his face.
The ambulance workers first indicated he was going to be taken to the nearest Emergency Room, however, after loading him in the ambulance they changed their diagnosis. Swelling had become more evident on his head and the decision to air lift him out was made. We drove to the nearest open area and waited for the arrival of the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter.
My husband and I were told to go ahead and head to the hospital, which was almost an hour and half away from our home. The Air Evac personnel took excellent care of my son. In the end, he had no internal injuries only suffered from a broken foot and lots of cuts and scrapes. Months of doctors visits, medications, and treatment has rehabilitated my son.
In August, he was recognized at a local high school football bowl as an Air Evac passenger. He was escorted out onto the game field as the Air Evac personnel landed their helicopter on the 50 yard line and then handed him the game ball to start the game. His story was broadcast across the speaker at the game.
Myself, along with most of the fans in the stands, had tears in our eyes. The excellent care, follow up phone calls, and caring attitude made me a lifetime believer in Air Evac. My entire family is now a member of Air Evac. - Lisa Napier
Family holds AEL in special place in hearts
On June16 2011, my son, Ethan, was seriously injured in a accident while riding on a Kawasaki Mule. Air Evac Lifeteam him to Memorial Medical Center in Savannah Ga.
It will soon be a year since his accident; he is doing great now. He recovered completely from his head and neck injuries. I thank the good Lord every day for looking out for Ethan during his time in the hospital.
To the Air Evac Lifeteam crew in Statesboro Ga., our family will always hold you in a special place in our hearts. With the help of the Air Evac team and the help of the Lord Ethan is here today. We will always be thankful to both. - John Fields, Portal, GA
Father-in-law gets a second chance
Thanks to Air Evac my Father-in-Law has a second chance at life!
On Father's Day, July 17, 2012, my Father-in-Law, Denny Moses left home on his Harley Davidson motorcycle for a beautiful afternoon ride. It was a busy evening for everyone in our family with errands and things to do that day.
At approximately 9:30 pm, Sandy, Denny's wife, pulled into a line of traffic that was stopped on the side of Booneville Mountain due to an accident. Sandy was coming home from Fort Smith and didn't want Denny to worry so she picked up her phone to give him a call. An answer came but it wasn't Denny. Instead, Donna from the Booneville EMS answered and informed her that Denny had been involved in an accident. Stunned and in shocked, she told Donna she was actually sitting in the line of traffic at the scene of the accident.
Denny had been traveling from the Greenwood area towards home in Booneville when, according to an eye witness, the back tire on his motorcycle began to wobble causing him to veer off of a 20-foot embankment into a large ditch. Luckily there was a first responder on the scene and began accessing his condition immediately. His breathing was dangerously shallow, he was unconscious and non-responsive.
Once the paramedics were there they began assisting his breathing while trying to stabilize him. His vitals were weak and they knew immediately with this type of accident they needed immediate transport to a trauma center.
Air Evac Lifeteam was dispatched to the scene as soon as the 911 call came in. They arrived and stabilized him for air travel. In a matter of minutes he was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith where doctors began to evaluate his condition. They discovered he had shattered his elbow, ankle and pelvis bones, plus he broke over 7 ribs, his sternum, nose, several vertebrae and neck. The brake to his pelvis was so severe he needed to see a specialist in Tulsa.
As soon as possible they began what would become a series of surgeries to repair all the broken bones. Once again Air Evac Lifeteam came to the rescue and swiftly transported Denny to Tulsa.
Fortunately for Denny, after one month in the hospital and five surgeries, he was able to return home. We are fortunate to have Denny with us today as a result of the wonder care and quick response time of all those involved. He received the proper medical care he needed quickly thanks to Air Evac. Thank you to the local Booneville EMS, the local law enforcement officers and a special thanks to Paris Air Evac Team! - Jonette Duke, Booneville, AR
Former EMS Director thankful to those who saved his life
A heart attack November 22, 2011 nearly claimed the life of the former Interim Alma-Bacon County Fire Chief/EMS director, but Dean Strickland is alive today and expressing his appreciation to the medical professionals that saved his life.
Strickland, who resides in Alma, Ga., suffered an Acute Myocardial Infarction after waking that morning with acute chest pains. Subsequent tests showed he had a 98 percent blockage to his Circumflex Coronary artery, and he was flown by the Air Evac Lifeteam based in Ware County, Ga. to Jacksonville, Fla., to receive the life-saving medical care he needed.
Although heavily medicated, Strickland recalled the care provided by pilot Dave Millard, flight nurse William Inman and flight paramedic Dawn Craven. "The flight crew was very compassionate and cordial," said Strickland. "I am very appreciative that Air Evac was close by!"
"With Dean knowing the symptoms of an MI and seeking medical treatment so quickly, it enabled him to have a good outcome," explained Inman. "Dean and his wife Kristi are great people and I am glad that we were able to help them that day." Craven, the flight paramedic on Strickland's flight, agreed. "We take pride in our jobs and skills with any patient, but when it is one of our own (a fellow EMS provider) we definitely want to make sure we stay focused on the task at hand. To know we had a part in his well being and recovery is thanks enough for me."
Strickland, who has since stepped down from the Interim Director position, is now back to work in a reduced capacity. "I am feeling well now," he said. "Let me say that I could not express enough thanks towards Air Evac and the crew."
Georgia woman finds the crew who helped save her life
It may have been fate, coincidence, or just plain luck that brought Jennifer Gardini and Missy Welborn together that afternoon at a motorcycle shop in LaGrange, Ga. But Missy, the Membership Sales Manager for the Troup Co. Air Evac Lifeteam base, happened to overhear a story so remarkable that she just had to intervene.
It was a story about a nearly-tragic Mother's Day, two lives saved, and a nine-month quest to find the flight crew that helped avert tragedy.
Gardini, by all accounts a healthy young woman with no previous health problems, woke up on May 9, 2010, with intense pain between her shoulder blades that eventually radiated to her chest. After being taken by ambulance to the West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, blood tests indicated the 28-year-old Gardini had suffered a heart attack.
Complicating her situation was the fact she was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.
"The cardiologist was concerned for my heart and for the baby, and rightfully so," said Gardini, who indicated that aside from being diagnosed with gestational diabetes at six months, her pregnancy had been uneventful. She also had no prior heart-related problems. "It was decided that I would need to go to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to deliver the baby and to have open heart surgery, but my situation was so critical that an ambulance was not an option. I had to be flown."
The Air Evac Lifeteam crew of flight paramedic Michelle Bevard, flight paramedic Gary Metcalf, and pilot Quillie Trott was summoned to transport the ailing young woman to Emory. Gardini, despite being heavily medicated, remembered the brightly-colored red, white and blue Air Evac helicopter, and her own feelings of trepidation. "I had never been on a helicopter," she said. "I was scared, but that crew was just outstanding, especially Michelle. I really bonded with her, and they took such good care of me on the flight. I felt like I was in wonderful hands."
The crew kept Gardini and the baby's heart rate stabilized during the flight and quickly transported her to Emory, where it was determined the young woman was suffering from SCAD, or spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Eighty percent of SCAD cases are women, and a third are late in pregnancy or shortly after.
"It's a very rare medical condition, with only 347 documented medical cases for women, and it has a high death rate," said Gardini. "It was explained to me that the stress from the pregnancy and the hormones in my body had strained my heart, causing SCAD." Medical personnel were able to safely take Gardini's daughter - Emily Grace - via Caesarean section before Jennifer underwent a six-hour double-bypass surgery. Three days after that surgery, complications arose after Gardini suffered a second heart attack, and she underwent a second surgery to repair that damage.
Despite her dire medical condition, Gardini remembered that the Air Evac crew, despite already having safely delivered her to Emory, not only accompanied her to the cardiac cath lab for a stenting procedure but was still there when she woke up. "They all just patiently waited for me during that procedure, just to make sure I was alright. They didn't have to do that. Their care was just outstanding."
After about six months of chest discomfort, Gardini reports she is now completely healthy, and along with husband Michael is now focused on raising 9-month-old Emily Grace and Emily's two older brothers, ages 8 and 6. But she never forgot the care and compassion of that flight crew, and while relaying her story at the local motorcycle shop, Missy Welborn stepped in to offer her assistance in finding the crew.
Welborn, whose main responsibility is offering Air Evac's memberships to the local community, was able to track down the crew on Gardini's flight and arrange times for a cheerful reunion. Eight months after her ordeal, Jennifer was able to meet the crew that she credits with helping saving her life, and that of her baby. "It was great seeing everybody, and being able to thank them for their help," she said. "The crew even gave Emily Grace her own set of flight wings." In return, Jennifer emphasizes to friends and acquaintances the importance of having an air ambulance helicopter in the local community, and uses her story as an example of why an Air Evac membership is so important.
"Our military benefits paid for the cost of the flight, but without that we would have received a very large bill, and an Air Evac membership can save you thousands," said Gardini, referring to Air Evac's membership plan of complete financial coverage for a flight for $50 annually for individuals, $55 for couples, and $60 for families of three or more. In return for those annual fees, Air Evac Lifeteam does not bill members for the cost of a flight.
Gardini said that as a healthy young woman, she never expected to need the services of Air Evac Lifeteam, but is grateful for their presence. "I never realized the importance of an air ambulance, but I do now. You just never know when you might need one."
Haleyville Family Recalls Accident that Changed their Lives
Four years after surviving a harrowing car accident that nearly ended her life, a 21-year-old Haleyville, Ala., woman and her family are giving credit to the Air Evac Lifeteam crew in Muscle Shoals for their part in her miraculous survival story.
Logan Tedder, currently a junior at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, proudly sports a black T-shirt that simply states "Miracle" to commemorate her recovery from an accident in the early morning hours of July 12, 2007. That morning, Logan's life was forever altered; a star young athlete lay broken and battered beside a road, her body desperately gasping for air.
A single-vehicle accident resulted in Logan being violently ejected out of a Jeep; in fact, the teen hit a tree so hard that clumps of her hair were stamped onto the bark. "Medically, she shouldn't have survived," said her mother Lynn.
Bucking all medical odds, the young woman whose skull was described by her mother as "looking like a broken egg" did survive despite the traumatic brain injury and having the entire right side of her face crushed. Her skull fracture was so significant, in fact, that it began at her right eye socket and went around her skull to her brain stem. She also suffered a collapsed lung and an immediate amputation of two fingers on her left hand, and upon first being treated was only taking four breaths per minute.
According to her mother, Logan's GCS - glasgow coma scale (test consciousness) rated a Number 3 out of 15 - a rating given simply because she was breathing. Otherwise, she was unresponsive. The teenage girl who was the star of her school's basketball and softball teams was rushed by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital, where the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter was waiting to rush her to Huntsville Hospital. As luck would have it, the crew was returning to the base from another flight and made a detour to pick up Logan, saving precious moments. Upon their arrival at Huntsville, the helicopter circled several times so the medical crew could get Logan's condition stabilized before landing.
"When the ambulance arrived, she was already on life support," said Lynn. "Bruce (Carson) of the Air Evac crew talked to me and told me how critical Logan was, and I do remember the despair in his voice." Lynn then added that Logan "received the perfect combination of medical care that she needed," crediting the Air Evac crew of flight paramedic Bruce Carson, nurse Teresa Pollard, and pilot Tim Damico, along with the medical providers at Huntsville Hospital, for saving her life.
Logan's recovery was long and difficult. After spending over three weeks in a coma at Huntsville Hospital, Logan was then transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehabilitation. The young woman's resolve physical fitness level, and the support of her friends and family aided in her recovery. "She entered Shepherd's on a stretcher, and three weeks and two days later she walked out on her own!" said Lynn, proudly. "She was determined to be home for the first pep rally of her senior year, and she was."
Logan continued her rehab in Montgomery, Ala., where she worked diligently with her cousin, Conan Brooks of Rehab-Associates, with the stated goal of "walking out on the basketball court for the first game of her senior year," said Lynn. Two months later, she did that very thing.
Today, she continues to be physically active, and is even studying to be a neuropsychologist because of her own traumatic ordeal. Maybe, just maybe, she can help others overcome their own obstacles, said Lynn. "Logan has a brain injury that will never totally heal, she has three metal plates in her face and one in her hand," she said. "She suffered emotionally, mentally and physically. But, it was a miraculous journey, and God has been by Logan's side from the second she was thrown from that Jeep."
With no memories of that summer four years ago, Logan Tedder is focused on the future, but mindful of the past. "I definitely feel more mature than the average 21-year-old," she admitted. "I don't remember a lot from that time, but I know that there were people that saved my life, including that Air Evac crew. I'm very grateful."
Having access to Air Evac Lifeteam is a blessing
On the morning of October 25, my 58-year-old husband woke me telling me he believed he was having a heart attack. He said he had very bad pain in his jaw and he was sweating and couldn't stop.
He is the assistant fire chief and we both are EMT basic and volunteer firefighters. I looked at him and told him I believed he was as well. I phoned 911 and the fire department responed very quickly. I checked his blood pressure and put him on oxygen as soon as I could. But by the time the reponders got to the house his feet were turning blue and he was very quickly not doing well.
Air Evac Lifeteam saved his life. He he had 100% blockage in one valve of his heart and 99% in the other 2 main valves. The heart surgeon at the Arkansas Heart hospital told us both had he been one hour later he would have been dead. He said it was by the grace of God he had not had a massive heart attack.
You just never know how fast your health can go and having the access to Air Evac Lifeteam is a blessing. We have had a membership since we first learned of your company. And being first responders we use your choppers a bunch. But as always it becomes so real when its your family.
Thank you all and God bless you. If he had been transported by ambulance he probably wouldn't still be here. He had 5 bypasses on his heart, and the heart attack did not cause any permanent damage to his heart and I know that is because of the great care from everyone. - Shelby Dennis, Dennard, AR
Huge thank you to Air Evac Lifeteam
On May 16, 2011 I was riding a motorcycle five blocks to work. I didn't wear a helmet that day and as I understand it, I collided with a driver who had failed to stop at a stop sign.
I had a big wreck that morning and severe damage to head and body. I have heard that the Air Evac Lifeteam crew stayed at our local hospital for two hours working on me to make sure I could make the flight. I had two broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken collar bone, three fractures on my skull and two brain hemorrhages, just to name a few. I was taken to UAMS where I was in a coma for a month. After a few days out of the coma I went to Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute for physical, occupational and psychological rehab.
I continue to struggle with health issues after returning home after my treatment there. I am improving but I realize it will be a slow and sometimes difficult journey. A huge thank you and Merry Christmas to Air Evac Lifeteam for allowing me the opportunity to continue on the journey of life and enjoy this and many more moments and holidays with my family. - Doug Bartlett, McGehee, AR
I am alive today because of God and Air EvacOn Feburary 5th, 2009 I fell asleep at the wheel coming home after working a 10-hr evening shift,around 1:30 a.m. My injuries included, head trauma, broken jaw,collapsed lung and a compromised airway.
Air Evac 18 based in Salem,Mo. was called to the nearest fire dept. They flew me to St.Johns in St.Louis.
On the flight in they could'nt open my airway so they had to put a Trach in for me. Had they have not done that, I would have died.
I am alive today because of God's miracle working power and Air Evac for going the extra mile and saving my Life. - Bob Coleman, Cherryville, MO
I know firsthand how amazing the Air Evac team is
One night while attending a class for ACLS, I suffered from a near fatal allergic reaction from blood pressure medication. The local hospital did not have the means necessary to treat the quick spreading angioedema.
Luckily there was an Air Evac Lifeteam crew stationed there and as blessing would have it, they all were there at the hospital at that moment.
The transport to DCH only took 15 minutes and the crew was both professional and empathetic. I felt secure and safe on our journey. They were very attentive and always made sure my airway was patent and I was breathing fine.
When we hit the ground and entered the ER; I was immediately entubated and placed on life support. I was on the ventilator 12 days but with prayer and rehab; I am now back at work.
I know if it had not been for the Lord above stationing your crew there at that time, I would not be here today.
Thank God for your wonderful crew. I am constantly singing your praises. I know first hand how amazing the Air Evac team is. May God continue to bless you all.- Elizabeth Lewis, Union, AL
I never expected such compassion and concern
My parents live in the Hill Country of Texas. My dad's pacemaker failed twice and both times he was flown by Air Evac Lifeteam to the nearest cardiac hospital some 150 miles away.
I can not tell you how efficient and caring the crew was (same one both flights) and so sympathetic to the family's concerns. Since I was another 200 miles away from their point of origin it was extremely stressful not knowing what was happening. The crew gave us an ETA and made sure that I was contacted when he arrived safely.
A few weeks after each trip my mother received calls from crewmembers checking on both parents. Even after my Dad's death over a year later, Mother still will occasionally receive a call from one of the crew to see if she is doing well.
Never would I expect such compassion and concern from a group who deals with so many people on a regular basis. Needless to say, we have purchased a membership for my household in Granbury, TX. also. Thank you for the wonderful service! - Martha Pyron, Grandbury, TX
I never thought I'd need that family membership
April 13, 2012 is a day that my family will never forget. My husband, his cousin, his younger brother and my twin sons had just left our house for a guy's night at another relative's cabin.
I got a phone call at 3:50 p.m. saying that there had been an accident. My daughter and I rushed to the accident scene.
It was a head-on collision. Emergency vehicles everywhere... emergency workers running around... two destroyed vehicles... then I saw our family members being worked on by paramedics. There is no more helpless feeling than to see family - especially your children - in that situation.
I was thankful for the fact that many of the emergency workers and paramedics that responded that day are friends of our family. My son, Collin, was injured to a degree that the paramedics felt he needed to be flown in for medical attention. His twin brother, Collier, was sent to one nearby hospital in the same ambulance as his uncle. Their father and his cousin were transported to yet another hospital by ambulance. Collin was being sent to yet another hospital by air.
The Air,Evac Lifeteam crew that responded that day were caring and professional beyond belief. The first thing that Annette did was hug me and reassure me that they would take the best of care of my son until I could get there by car. She took my information and promised to update me. She called me as soon as they landed to let me know that he was still doing ok and what was happening.
She helped reassure (as much as was possible) a terrified and shell-shocked mother that day. Words cannot express my gratitude towards Annette and the rest of the crew on that flight from Cave Springs to Fayetteville. I still have the voice mail messages that Annette left for me on my phone.
Thankfully, our family's story is not the tragedy that it could have been. All five of our family members are recovering, as is the woman who caused the accident.
I had always "intended" to buy an Air Evac Lifeteam family membership, but never did. You never think you will need it... until the day that you do. We have our membership now. And will from now on. Thank you, Air Evac... for the service you provide and the manner in which you provide it. - Brandy Blackburn, Cave Springs, AR
I pay tribute to AEL for saving my lifeIt was Feb 18, 2007 when I had a brain aneurysm and I was taken to Hardin County Hospital when they called for Air Evac Lifeteam to transport me to Jackson Hospital. After 2 days there they called Air Evac Lifeteam again to transport me to Vanderbilt Medical Hospital. I was unaware of my surroundings for the most part. I do remember for a short time my pilot Nick and my medic Mark. They kept me warm and comfortable and did their best to keep me calm. I often think of them. They saved my life by getting me to Vanderbilt. My husband was so thankful to them for giving him driving directions to the hospital, since we were from NJ and were only here 13 days and this happened.I pay tribute to the Air Evac Team for saving my life. Also, there is a wonderful woman Betty who called me weekly to check up on me after my release from Vanderbilt. I wish to thank everyone for all they did for me. I would not have survived if it were not Air Evac Lifeteam. Thank you again for making it possibe for me to be with my family for many more years. - Barbara Tucci, Savannah, TN
If it had not been for AEL, we could have lost our son
Our story begins on June 21 2009, when our 21-year-old son, Janie was hit by a car while standing by the side of the road. Our world was changed forever.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken nose and both arms, fractures to his face and broken right leg. He was in a coma for 23 days and we were told he would not walk or talk again. But the doctors were wrong; he is now 95% back to normal.
If it had not been for Air Evac Lifeteam being there, we could have lost our son. God was also in there, but God guided them and for that we thank you for everything you all do and have done for our family. Please keep up the great work! - Danny and Sherry Vance, Man, WV
If it wasn't for you, my daughter would not be alive
About 10 months ago my 4-year-old daughter had a terrible accident with a gun. Thanks to the Lord she is lucky to be alive.
She was flown from Fisher County Hospital and taken to Lubbock. Melanie is in school now and is one hundred percent back to normal.
I would like to say to all the Air Evac Lifeteam crews - THANK YOU!!!!! FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. If It wasn't for you my daughter would not be alive. - Jeremy, Rotan, TX
Mother of twins is thankfulOn May 30, 1998 I was 26 weeks pregnant with my twins and went into early labor. At that time there was no NICU in Northwest Ark; the closest was UAMS in Little Rock. I am so thankful Air Evac Lifeteam was available to airlift me to Little Rock or my twins may not have made it.- Mistie Stafford, Springdale, AR
Tennessee man survives "widowmaker" heart attack
I had just returned home from church and I was not feeling very good. My wife Susan was cooking steaks for lunch.
Then some pain started I took an aspirin. The pain got worse and I told Susan she better call 911.
The ambulance and Air Evac Lifeteam showed up. The medics said the EKG showed troubled so they started and IV and Air Evac Lifeteam took me to Vandebuilt Hospital in Nashville.
The Air Evac crew did a good job. The doctor said later after they put a sint in my hear, that I had a widowmaker heart attack. He said most people with kind of heart attack die before the get to the hospital. Thanks Air Evac. Preston Gwin, Waverly, TN
Tennessee teen thankful for Air Evac Lifeteam
I'm Hannah Ramsey, I'm a 16 year old type 1 juvenille diabetic. On November 19th, I was airlifted to Le-Bonheur Childrens Hospital in Memphis, TN. I was in DKA pretty bad, I was really bad dehydrated, and very sick.
The doctor at the local ER in Dyersburg said I needed to go to Le-Bonheur by helicoptor because I was getting worse.. I started cryin! I was scared because, I have never rode in one before!
The helicopter crew came in and talked to me, and got me onto the transporting bed, and hooked me up to all the monitors. They then took me and put me onto the ambulance, and transported me to the helicoptor pad. My mom then met us over there, and of course she was upset, and didn't want anything to happen to me!
After they loaded me into the helicoptor, they gave me a headset, so I could hear them, and talk to them! I was a nervous wreck. When we landed at Le-Bonheur I looked up and seen this security guard, and pedi-flite, and of course The Air Evac Lifeteam crew standing there!
Then Air Evac crew and Pedi-Flite crew stayed in my room in the ER until my mom got there. I have to say Air Evac and Pedi-Flite are really great people, and very nice! If I had to go again, I'd deffinatly fly with Air Evac or Pedi-Flite! All though it was scary, and made me a little queasy. I couldn't say thank you enough - Hannah Ramsey, Dyersburg, TN
Tennessee woman credits EMS agencies for saving her life
For longtime Waynesboro Water Systems Manager Annie Chiodo, a recovery from a life-threatening medical emergency last year was made possible by two local agencies that, by her own admission, are the true heroes in her survival story.
Chiodo, who suffered a total of seven strokes in April 2010, credits the quick actions of the Wayne County EMS and the Waynesboro Air Evac Lifeteam crew after suffering her first stroke for her nearly 100 percent recovery. That Spring, the Waynesboro woman suffered a nearly fatal brain bleed that left her immobilized, and both agencies worked together to get Chiodo the life-saving medical care she needed at Florence ECM Hospital.
"They saved my life and gave it back to me, and they will always be in my heart," said the longtime Waynesboro resident. "They are my true heroes, and I wouldn't trade them for anything."
The first signs of trouble appeared while Chiodo was relaxing at home with husband Sam, she said. "I remember sitting there with my husband, and suddenly I wasn't able to talk," she explained. "I knew something was wrong, so I patted Sam's arm to get his attention and he called 911." Chiodo collapsed shortly afterward and was rushed by the Wayne County EMS directly to the Air Evac Lifeteam base at 915 Andrew Jackson. The Air Evac helicopter then transported Chiodo to Florence ECM Hospital to get the medical care she needed.
Although she remembers little from the actual flight, Chiodo recalls being loaded into the red, white and blue Air Evac helicopter. She also recalls all the follow-up phone calls by the Air Evac crew to check on her condition. "They stayed in touch, and that really meant a lot to me," she said.
Chiodo's health scare continued a week later as she suffered some additional small strokes, and she ended up back at Florence ECM. She then spent nearly four months at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston, Texas, for the physical, speech, occupational, and optical post-stroke therapy she needed.
Although she occasionally has trouble "getting the right words out" and with two fingers on her left hand not completely recovered, she proudly says she is "nearly normal" despite her ordeal 18 months ago. "Well, I'm as close to normal as I'm going to get," laughed Chiodo, who then continued her praise for the Wayne County EMS and Air Evac Lifeteam.
"I couldn't have asked for better care from either group, and they work very well together," she said. "Both of those groups are just awesome, and not only do I trust them with my life, but with my family's lives as well."
Texas Hill Country appreciates Air Evac Lifeteam
In September of 2002, Everett Higdon fell through a six ft. ladder while building his house. He broke both the bones in his left leg just above the ankle (not the ankle, above it) all the way through; his foot was hanging with just part of the skin from his left leg. When we found him he was bleeding badly. An ambulance was called, he could not find 3rd street and became lost. Several more ambulances were dispatched.; we finally had 3 ambulances, Fire EMTS, and a policeman. While waiting Everett kept pressure on the pressure points, to keep from bleeding to death. By the time the ambulances arrived it was deemed that he needed immediate medical facility to save his life and his foot. Marble Falls does not have a hospital. It was 48 miles by highway to Austin. He needed immediate care. He was transported by AirEvacLifeteam.
Mr Higdon is alive, walks with a limp and still has his foot..Thank You LifeTeam.
Mr Higdon is 77 years old.
THE TEXAS HILLCOUNTRY NEEDS AIR EVAC LIFETEAM
- Everett Higdon, Marble Falls, TX
Texas teen happy Air Evac Lifeteam was there for him
In the fall of 2006, Drew Ellis had no idea he might not see the upcoming holidays with his family. Now, partly thanks to Air Evac Lifeteam, he is a freshman in college and getting ready to come home for the Christmas holidays.
"I am very thankful we had the service of Air Evac Lifeteam available to help Drew," explained his mom Tacy. "Because of the response time of the local EMS and Air Evac, he reached the medical care he needed and recovered great."
In October 2006, Drew Ellis was a happy-go-lucky freshman in High School in Woodson, Texas. A cross country meet had been canceled because of rain and he convinced his mom to let him ride 4-wheelers with his friends.
"He was supposed to call me when he got over there," recalled Tacy, "but he forgot and the next thing I know his friend was calling about the accident."
Drew's friend had gone over a bump in the field and as Drew approached the same spot and tried the same maneuver, it didn't work. As a freshman he only weighed 86 pounds and wasn't strong enough to lift up on the ATV as he went over the bump. The result was that the ATV stopped abruptly on the bump, throwing him off, and then it overturned with the rack on the back of the ATV landing on, and crushing, his legs.
When his mom got the call, she grabbed her cell phone and headed to the field. "I was almost 8 months pregnant at the time, but when I got to the field I couldn't see Drew. He rose up from behind a terrace and waved at me, and I took off across the field on foot, while his dad tried to get the truck closer in the muddy field," his mom explained.
When she reached him she realized that both his legs were broken. One foot actually appeared disconnected from the leg. The first thing he had tried to do was stand and that only compounded the fractures. "When I got to him, I knew he shouldn't move, but at the same time he had landed on an ant hill and had fire ants all around him," she said. "Somehow though, he was never stung by one of them."
Emergency services were called and they responded quickly to the scene and saw the need for air medical transport. "To get him out of the field, he was put on a back board and taken by 4-wheeler to the ambulance and then the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter landed on scene," Tacy added.
"The crew from Air Evac was wonderful," she said. "They were very calm and all came to the ambulance to check on him and you could tell they knew what they were doing. They were able to get him transferred to the helicopter with minimal pain, and they called ahead so the ER was prepared, and he went right in when he arrived.
The helicopter transported him to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas, and his family was about 30 minutes behind the helicopter. "When I arrived he had already been in X-ray, and was in triage, but the entire Air Evac team was waiting to tell us about his flight," she said. "Everyone was very caring and their medical expertise and quick response helped him in his recovery."
According to doctors at the hospital, they could fix Drew's leg easily, but his ankle needed surgery and blood circulation and if he hadn't been there in time, he might have lost his foot or at least the use of it. "He was in surgery for almost seven hours, but they were able to put his foot back together perfectly," she said.
Drew spent a week in the hospital and though at first the Ellis's were told it might be a year, by December of that year, he was standing on crutches. "The whole Air Evac Team came to check on him during his week in the hospital," said Tacy, "and they seemed to always be checking on his recovery."
Since that fateful day in 2006 when Drew and his family met the Air Evac Lifeteam Crew from Abilene, he has seen them again. "We see Drew at PR events around the area," said flight nurse Laura Wharton, "and about 2 years ago we attended a PR event at his school where he told his story and described the accident." At the Woodson 4th of July gathering, the flight crew and Membership Sales Manager attended to answer questions and sell memberships to those interested.
Drew graduated from high school on May 28, 2010 and was able to walk across the stage, in part due to the timely response of Air Evac Lifeteam and the caring work of all involved with his medical treatment. He started college in the end of August this year at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.
"I am majoring in Ag business and plan to obtain a teaching degree to be an ag teacher," he explained. "I am pretty much making it, as any other freshman. I still have rods and screws in my ankles, so sometimes in the colder weather I feel it, but mostly I don't have any trouble."
Drew said he had never even seen the helicopter at any events before. "When the four-wheeler flipped on me, my first response was to try to stand up and that just made things worse," he remembered. "When the ambulance arrived and they cut my jeans off to see how bad it was, they called in the helicopter."
Drew was moved to the ambulance where he waited a short time for the helicopter to arrive and land in the field. "They had given me pain medication, but I was still conscious. I remember getting loaded into the helicopter and I remember landing."
"Once I started my recovery, I was determined to do better than the doctor's thought I would," he remembered. "I wanted to be able to prove them wrong. I knew it wouldn't be as terrible as they said it was."
Through this experience Drew has developed a special relationship with the crew who responded to his medical emergency. "I have a relationship with them because they were there for me when I needed them," he stated. "When I saw Laura at my high school graduation, where I was able to walk across the stage, it really revived that relationship.
"If I had anything to tell anyone about Air Evac Lifeteam it would be to sign-up now. You won't regret it!" he said. "You never know what's going to happen or when you might need them. They will be there for you!" As a volunteer firefighter in Woodson, Drew's father, Mark Ellis, said, "We are just very fortunate the service was available. The VFD has used the service several times since that October. It is definitely a resource we do not want to be without."
Drew is looking forward to the holidays and many more family memories because of the care he received from local EMS, Air Evac Lifeteam and the hospital doctors, nurses and everyone involved with his care.
The crew that responded to Drew's emergency was from the Abilene, Texas Air Evac Lifeteam. Their base is located at 1900 Pine Street in Abilene and has been open since March 2006, in cooperation with Hendricks Medical Center, just a few months before Drew's accident.
Texas woman grateful for quick response
In 2008 and the early part of 2009, I had been sick for about 8 months off and on. I suffered from sinus infections, upper respiratory infections and bronchitis and had taken a total of 4 antibiotics and 2 rounds of predisone.
One Sunday morning while at church counting money, I said that I just wasn't feeling good and I was going go home and take a nap. I don't remember alot, but I know that I told my son that he needed to get his Dad. Thats about all I remember. Realizing that the situration wasn't good, the family put me in the car and took me to the ER.
At the hospital, they did a spinal tap and diagnosed me with meningitis. They said I needed to be taken to a bigger hospital and fast. Fortunately, we had purchased the membership with Air Evac Lifeteam. I was put on the helicopter and made it to the hospital in time for treatment. The doctors told my husband that if he had driven me, I probably would not have made it.
So I am very thankful for the doctor that diagnosed me and for Air Evac Lifeteam for getting me there in time. Also thankful God allowed me more time. - Donna Saunders, Muldoon, TX
Texas woman thanks Air Evac Lifeteam crew for great careOn Friday, 6/17/11, I received my Air Evac packet in the mail. I was about 33 weeks pregnant and immediately went to put the sticker on my car. We knew I was having complications and that when it was time to deliver we would have to do it fast. I was a repeat C-section so I wasn't worried. Saturday morning, my bloodpressure was very high and I went to my local hospital where my OBGYN checked me out. He said it would still be several days until I delivered, but that he wanted me to go to Fort Worth. The Air Evac crew came to get me and was so sweet and efficient. I have never been so calm in my life! The flight was relatively good given I was contracting and nauseated, but the crew took great care of me. I know that these guys were truly sent from God to take care of me and my daughter. I had a healthy premie and know tht Air Evac is the reason why. Thanks for all you did! - Lauren Sullivan, Olney, TX
Thank you for honoring my dad
I personally never had to ride in an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter, but to my dad riding on one as part of the crew was his dream.
In his life, saving lives was one of his favorite things, second only to being with his four kids. He had been a firefighter since his junior year in high school, enjoyed working in the oilfield and loved being an EMT. The last couple years he was going back to school online to get the requirements to be a part of the Air Evac Lifeteam crew.
His goal was to fly, and if his life had not been cut short he would have done whatever it took to succeed. My dad, Ronnie Merritt, Jr, tragically died in a car wreck Monday July 23, 2012.
At his funeral this past Thursday we were completely honored when an Air Evac helicopter landed in the cemetery. The crew got out, removed their helmets, and waited for the services to end. At the end of the service they waited for my three younger brothers and I to walk out and salute them before taking off. I would like to say thank you to all of the members of the Air Evac Lifeteam for being an amazing life saving team that my dad longed to be a part of and for honoring my dad in such an amazing way. I cannot thank you enough! - Ashlee Butler Merritt, Carnegie, OK
Thank you to the Elk City, Okla., crewMy 13 year old son suffered a head injury on March 10, 2012. Air Evac was dispatched and landed at the Newman Memorial Hospital in Shattuck, Ok. Due to inclement weather in central Oklahoma the transport had to fly to Amarillo, Texas. Due to their prompt response and transport, my son was able to receive a higher level of care in a pediatric ICU in Amarillo. Thank you to the Elk City flight crew. - Rhonda Wayland, Arnett, OK
Thanks for taking good care of my husband
On June 3, 2010, my husband was taken to Texsan Heart Hospital from Sid Peterson Hospital by Air Evac Lifeteam. He was scheduled for open heart surgery the following day.
He served 3 tours of duty in Vietnam so when I asked him if he was afraid to fly in a helicopter, he said, "it's no hill for a climber". Anyway, he really liked "hanging" with the Lifeteam crew. After my husband retired from the Navy, he built roads throughout San Antonio and pointed to your team the roads he and his crew built. Needless to say he enjoyed his flight with all of you.
On June 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm my husband of 32 yrs. died during open heart surgery. I just want to say Thank You Air Evac Lifeteam for the sympathy card I received from all of you. And, I want to Thank You for taking good care of my husband and calming my "tough guy" husbands heart surgery fears. Your Very Special People, God Bless. - Lana Hoffman, Kerrville, Texas
Thanks to AEL, I received medical care I neededOn June 20, 2008 I was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident. One of the injuries I sustained was a break in the T5 area of my back, which resulted in a spinal cord injury. Had I not had a membership with Air Evac Lifeteam, I would not have received medical attention in a timely matter and my medical bills from the incident would have been substantially higher. Thank you! - T. J. Moore, Lawrenceburg, TN
Two heart attacks, two years apart
An Arcadia, Mo. woman is alive today and thankful to the air medical company that transported her following two separate medical emergencies that occurred nearly two years apart.
And, not only is Verna Pewitt grateful for the swift and lifesaving medical transport she received from Air Evac Lifeteam, Pewitt is also thankful to be part of the company's membership program. As an Air Evac Lifeteam member at the time of her medical emergencies, Verna Pewitt had no out-of-pocket expenses for either flight, a fact that saved her thousands of dollars in potential air ambulance bills.
"I'm just so thankful for Air Evac Lifeteam," said the 81-year-old Pewitt. "We've been members for several years, and always tell everyone I talk to that they need to become members. They've saved my life twice and I'm very grateful."
Pewitt's first flight occurred on April 22, 2008, after suffering a heart attack. Pewitt was awake and conscious during the flight, which was from Iron County Hospital in Pilot Knob to Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis. Pewitt remembered the pilot of that flight - James Prince - kept pinching her finger to keep her alert. "They were all very nice," said Pewitt of Prince, flight nurse Jason Weible and flight paramedic Joy Miller of the Perryville, Mo. crew. "It was a short flight, but I was alert and knew what was going on."
After a short, three-day hospital stay, Pewitt was back home. Disaster struck again on September 1, 2010, when Pewitt suffered another heart attack while hospitalized for knee replacement therapy. A blood clot had broken loose and clogged her main artery. "It was late at night, and I felt a heaviness in my chest," she remembered. On this flight, Poplar Bluff, Mo. pilot Christopher Kieninger, flight nurse Christopher Foster and flight paramedic Michael Norris transported the woman to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Crystal City for the immediate and lifesaving cardiac care she needed. "The pilot told my daughter they thought they had lost me," she said.
Verna and husband Wayne are proud to be members of Air Evac Lifeteam's membership program, not only for its financial benefits but to support the service of a dedicated air ambulance helicopter in their small community. The costs of that program are $50 for an individual, $55 for a couple, and $60 for a family of three or more.
Pewitt first became a member in 2000. "It's a very good service and we're happy to have them," she said.
We are so lucky and grateful to have AEL's services
Early July5, 2012 my husband and two kids were riding home after visiting with friends and popping fireworks. They were riding on a Rhino, which is a form of ATV. They hit a bump in the road and attempted to steer it, when they ran up on an embankement and flipped on the passenger side.
Luckily, my husband and daughter suffered no real injuries, but my son's arm was almost cut completely off and mangled.
After arriving at the local hospital, my son was air lifted via Air Evac Lifeteam to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Shortly upon arrival he went into surgery. He had a dislocated shoulder, broken humerus, and very large wounds on his left arm. It literally looked like a meat grinder had gotten a hold of it.
He's had four surgeries, a synthetic graft, and a wound vac ( which he still has). After a week in the hospital, he is now at home with a wound vac. He will still need surgery weekly for the next 3 weeks, and, depending on the progress, may be able to get the skin graft that is also needed. He also has a nerve that was affected, and has little use of the "straightening out of his fingers, arm, & thumb." Which, the plastic surgeon says should return. So far he has had 42 sutures, 4 staples in his head, and a metal plate and screws in his arm. He even had to stay in the hospital during his tenth birthday.
We are so very lucky and grateful to have had Air Evac Lifeteam's Services. The crew was wonderful. It truly is an honor to have such wonderful care that you give every minute of everyday. Thanks so much!!!!!!Also, it was so awesome that you give follow up calls, it really means a lot. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful service in such a rural area. - Jami Icenhower, Dierks, AR
We never dreamed we'd use our membership
We decided to purcharse an Air Evac Lifeteam membership because my husband is a famer and an outfitter. We knew that unexpected dangers can happen on a farm and while hanging treestands in the woods. We never dreamed we would use it for what we did.
I was mowing the grass one morning while my husband was on the farm working, two of my children were in the house playing while my middle son, age 3, was outside. I had told him to play up by the house where his toys and play house were so he was away from the mower.
I was at the very back of our yard turning to come back up towards the house, I went around a bush and then backed up to get traction to go up the little incline in the yard. The mower made a horrible noise, and it felt like the deck had just fallen off of the mower and it died. I stepped off to see what had happend and then I heard my little boy cry. My whole body went burning hot and then ice cold. I dropped to the ground and looked under the mower, there layed my little boy face down under the mower, crying.
I started screaming, "HELP ME, HELP ME" as hard as I could scream, but it was the middle of the day, the men were working and we have mostly older neighbors, no one came. I finally realized I needed to call for help. I pulled out my cell phone, thank God I had it on my side, and tried to dial 911. I couldn't even see the screen, I just prayed I had dialed it right. They answered and the first responders arrived quickly.
Before we new it we heard the helicopter comming. I tried explaining to my son he was going to get to ride in a helipcopter and his dad and I would meet him at the hospital as quick as we could. He said he was scared, so I prayed with him and told him if he got scared, just to pray and God would be there with him. The helicopter landed in our back yard, they took him to our local hospital where they determined he needed to be flown to St. Louis Childrens Hospital.
We were so blessed, our son could have and honestly should have died that day, but God gave us a miracle there is no doubt! Our son's left arm was completely shattered at his elbow and his right back shoulder was laid open, but stopped just under all the skin and fat. It didn't touch a bone on his back or any major blood vessels or muscels. After many surgeries, skin grafts, and physical therapy all we have to show for that day are the scars that are left behind. He has made almost a complete recovery.
It has been a year and a half since that horrible day. Yesterday we heard a sound outside, I knew immediatley it was the helicopter. Both of my boys came running to the window to see it. It was headed to help someone else, we said a prayer for them and thanked God for helping us that day!
Thank You Air Evac for everything! If you are thinking of getting a membership don't wait, life is unexpected and you don't know what is around the corner. Get it today! - Tina Fesler, Barry, IL
We will be forever grateful to Air Evac Lifeteam
On March 8, 2012 after three days of what I thought was an intestinal virus, a visit to my family doctor determined I had a diverticula rupture. He immediately sent me to the local hospital in Livingston, TN.
I was rushed into surgery and thought I was on the mend. But, the infection had moved all over my body and had caused my brain to swell. The doctors there thought I needed to go to Stroke center, so I was immediately flown by Air Evac Lifeteam to Earlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, TN.
I had lost my eyesight and numerous other problems, but miraculously, through the grace of God, I did not have a stroke; only the swelling of my brain had caused the problems. I was in ICU for two weeks and was released to come home a week later, after a full month of hospitalization.
With the help of my wonderful husband and mother-in-law and loads of prayers, some from people that I did not know, I have made a full recovery.
I might add that we had purchased our Air Evac Lifeteam membership about a month before this happened. We were new to the Celina, TN area from Virginia and did not know about this service until we went into our local Rite Aid drugstore and a representative was there with a table set up to explain what they do. That was an amazing event that only God could have know we needed! We will be forever grateful to Air Evac Lifeteam! - Sandy Ross, Celina, TN
Without AEL Joe would not have made it.
My husband had a heart attack and could not breath when he was admitted to the local hospital. The ER doctor said that in order for him to "make it" I needed to be willing to get him to Charleston CAMC fast and with the CPAP air machine. He recommended that we send Joe via the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter.
I told him that I had the plan where I paid a membership fee and that I would rather send Joe that way because I didn't want to lose him. Joe was flown to Charleston and had already seen a doctor who told him that he would need a heart cath way before I was able to make it to the ER. By the time I got to the ER we did not have a lot of time before Joe was taken into surgery.
Without the Air Evac team Joe would have not made it to Charleston and would not be with me today. I love those guys and they were extremely nice to my Joe and he now loves them. Before he did not like the fact that they were so close to our house and were flying at night over top of our house but now he just says "Hi guys you can fly over any time you want." So THANK YOU GUYS and I owe you some cookies. - Annie Groves, Summersville, WV
Without Air Evac Lifeteam, I wouldn't be alive today
I'm very glad that Air Evac Lifeteam was avalable to me. On Nov. 29th, 1998, I was involved in a car wreck and the car flipped over five times, ejecting me about 50 feet, landing on my face. I had severe brain damage, broke just about every bone I have, including 5 in my neck and 5 in my back and many others, crushed my right side, puncturing my lung and pulled the artery from my heart.
I was flown to UAB in Birmingham, Alabama and had immediate heart surgery and not expected to live. I was in a coma for over three months and the doctors found no brain activity and took me off life support to die.
I came back to life and went home on March 23rd, 1999. I've had alot of therapy because I had had a massive stroke while in the coma and had to relearn to walk and talk, etc. I feel as though if Air Evac had not flown me to Birmingham as quick as they did, I wouldn't be alive today. - Jean Cassell, Russellville, AL
Words can never express my thanks
I was in a very bad ATV accident at Turkey Bay, cutting my leg and severely bleeding. The local EMS arrived and said I needed to be flown by Air Evac Lifeteam to Vanderbilt Medical Center.
The response time of the helicopter was very fast. and the crew took great care of me. I honestly don't think I'd be here today with out them.
It was a life changing even for me and I really just want to say thank you all for saving my life and for all the great work you all do. It takes a special person to be able to do what you all do and I'm very thankful that there are people like you all.. Words can not express my thanks for what yall do. - Kevin, Mayfield, KY
Working Together. Saving Lives.
Eddie Forrester thought maybe his ticket had been punched.
"I thought maybe it was my time," the Hurricane Mills resident said. "If it hadn't been for the right people in the right place at the right time..."
Eddie was digging a pond on November 11 when his dozer became stuck. He grabbed a shovel and started to dig around the tracks. That's when the chest pain hit. His friend, John, went to Eddie's truck and dialed 911.
"I walked up to my truck to meet him and I got very dizzy," Eddie said.
John drove Eddie's truck and AMR Humphreys County met them on Highway 230.
Mark Pierce, program director for the Waverly Air Evac base, said the paramedics determined Eddie needed to be flown and activated Air Evac Lifeteam. While en route to the landing zone, Eddie went into cardiac arrest. He was defibrillated, resuscitated and diverted to Three Rivers Hospital Emergency Department. The
staff at Three Rivers quickly stabilized him, and the Air Evac crew of flight nurse Aylessa Baker, flight paramedic Cody McMahan and pilot Jeff Templeton
transferred Eddie to St. Thomas West in Nashville where he was taken to the Cath Lab upon arrival.
"I had a 99 percent blockage and a 75 percent blockage, and they sucked four different clots out of me and put in two stints," Eddie said. "I'm back at home, and everything played out just right. If it hadn't, I wouldn't be here."
Shawn Bradford, director of AMR Humphreys County, agreed.
"None of this could have happened if any link of this chain was missing," he said. "We are proud of the relationship we have with Air Evac and Three Rivers, and we're always looking to improve. Eddie's is just one case out of many that showcases that great relationship. We all wear different shirts, but at the end of the day the goal is the same - to save lives."
Humphreys County 911 Director Bobby Brown said his dispatchers have the red phone - a direct line to
the Air Evac Lifeteam Communications Center.
"That makes things a lot easier," he said. "If the paramedics even think they might need an aircraft,
we'll call and check the status of Air Evac. With us living in a rural community like we do, getting someone to Nashville by the quickest means possible makes a big difference."
Humphreys County 911, AMR Humphreys County, Three Rivers Hospital and Air Evac Lifeteam, along with
Eddie's friend, John, all worked together on November 11 to save a life. It's something that happens quite often. Freda Russell, CEO/CNO of Three Rivers Hospital, said the agencies that worked together to save Eddie's life work together every day.
"It makes all of our jobs a lot easier, having that trust and level of communication with each other," she said.
It doesn't just "happen." It takes each person doing his or her job, communicating well and trusting that
everyone involved has the patient's best interest at heart.
"I'm very lucky that everyone was there and everything worked," Eddie said.
Eddie is also relieved that he and his wife are Air Evac members. The couple's children purchased a
membership for them several years ago. That membership meant whatever portion of the Air Evac flight Eddie's insurance covered was considered payment in full.
"It's a good thing," Eddie said of the Air Evac membership. "You just never know when you might need it, and it provides good peace of mind."