Megan’s Story: ‘Truly a Miracle’

Megan Redmond’s body hung upside down, partially ejected from her Chevy Tahoe, nearly lifeless. Her scalp, torn. Skull, face and neck, fractured. Left forearm, snapped. But a helicopter whirred overhead. Help was on the way.

“It was one of those instances when you question, ‘Is this patient alive?’” says Molly Nickell, RN, CEN, a paramedic and flight nurse with Premier Health’s CareFlight Air and Mobile Services. “Honestly, I would say she was probably minutes from death.”

CareFlight spent only seven of those minutes transporting Megan from the scene of her accident on Interstate 75 in Miami County to the trauma bay at Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton’s only Level I Trauma Center.

“We are specially trained to get the patients out of the helicopter while it’s still running,” says Molly. “Then as soon as we walk into the building, we have an elevator that takes us straight down into the operating room, or directly into the trauma suite. It gets the patient evaluated as soon as possible.”

“I fully believe that if CareFlight wasn’t available, I wouldn’t have survived,” Megan says.

35 Years of Critical Care

CareFlight transported its first patient in October 1983. It was the first program of its kind in the region, and the 65th in the United States. Now there are more than 800.

“It really demonstrated a lot of innovation at the time and place that we started,” says Candy Skidmore, one of CareFlight’s initial 12 nurses 35 years ago and now vice president of emergency and trauma services for Premier Health. She has seen the program grow from 254 transports in its first year of service, to now more than 60,000.

Andrew C. Hawk, MD, has been CareFlight’s medical director for 25 years. “When I started, we had one helicopter and 12 fight nurses, and now we have four helicopters, six Mobile Intensive Care Units, or MICUs, and somewhere between 80 and 90 flight nurses and paramedics,” says Dr. Hawk.

In 2017, CareFlight Air and Mobile Services celebrated the 20th anniversary of taking its services to the ground by adding the first MICU to its fleet.

“Obviously, the program from a vehicle standpoint has grown,” says Dr. Hawk. “But my greatest experience, that probably means the most to me, has been watching individuals that came into the program years ago grow into excellent CareFlight flight nurses and critical care paramedics.”

CareFlight currently serves a multi-state, 150-mile radius. Its Dauphin helicopters stationed at Miami Valley Hospital, the Warren County Airport, and Grimes Field in Urbana can carry a pilot, two flight nurses, and two patients at 180 mph.

“It’s kind of impressive in terms of where the patients come from,” says Candy. “We function outdoors, indoors; our IV bags could be freezing or it can be blazing hot; we can be down at the bottom of a ravine or out in the middle of a highway. We respond to farming accidents; domestic situations; industrial accidents. It’s a unique job.”

Connecting with Patients

Flight nurse Molly, who has worked with CareFlight for seven years, says one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is following up with patients.

“Everyone is somebody’s somebody, so you need to continuously connect that,” she says. “Seeing Megan, she’s truly a miracle. There’s always those patients that stand out in your mind and leave a lasting impression, and Megan is a reminder of why I do what I do.”

A few months after the accident, Megan, a mother of four, and her family met with the CareFlight crew and Troy first responders who cared for her. “My son said, ‘Thank you for saving my mom’s life,’ and it was one of those moments when immediately everybody was crying,” she recalls.

“Not everyone has the outcome that I had, and they just don’t get the credit I think sometimes that they deserve,” Megan says.

Andrew Hawk, MD

Andrew Hawk, MD

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