When Naples Dispatch receives a report of an accident or medical emergency and tones out the Rescue and Fire services in the Lake Region they are trained to expect the worst and hope for the best. When emergency service responders arrive on the scene they have a wide array of tools available to treat and save, including rescue units and ambulances, community and regional hospitals, and LifeFlight of Maine.
Not only are we fortunate to have well equipped trauma rooms and well-trained staff at hospitals in Bridgton and Portland, but rescuers also have an ace up their sleeve in the form of LifeFlight Maine. LifeFlight has two helicopters on call 24 hours a day, every day, to transport crucially ill or injured patients to trauma centers when minutes make the difference. In a typical year rescuers will transport about 250,000 transports by regular ambulance while LifeFlight will transport about 750 of the most critically ill and injured by helicopter.
The Sebago Rescue and Fire Departments call for LifeFlight helicopters once or twice every year when the patients need a critical response directly from the scene, and LifeFlight has landed their flying emergency rooms at Nason's Beach and at the town ball field to pick up patients. In a similar manner, emergency and specialist physicians may call for LifeFlight when a patient at the hospital needs special care, equipment, or rapid transport that cannot be provided at the community hospital.
This is what happened in Bob Greene's case. Bob was working on his porch on Sunday, July 13, 2003 when he became ill. Naples Dispatch got the 911 call and toned out Sebago Rescue, who transported him to Bridgton Hospital. There doctors did an evaluation and discovered that Bob's condition was critical, and called for LifeFlight to immediately transport him to Central Maine Medical Center (CCMC) in Lewiston.
The helicopter was called at 4:44 p.m., was in the air 6 minutes later and arrived at Bridgton Hospital to pick Bob up only 17 minutes after the call was made.
The LifeFlight engine didn't even shut off while Bob was bundled on a stretcher and strapped down in the helicopter. It took off immediately and enroute LifeFlight Flight Nurse Cathy Case, EMT-P kept Bob alive, giving him transfusions and radioing ahead to CCMC with his rapidly deteriorating condition. Bob was in CCMC 14 minutes later, arriving at 5:38 p.m., and was taken immediately into surgery. Bob underwent six hours of emergency surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm and was in intensive care on a ventilator for ten days. His friends and neighbors breathed a long sigh of relief when Bob successfully pulled through his ordeal, and were able to welcome him home upon his release from the hospital on July 28. We had been planning his funeral and wake, and were a little put off at not being able to celebrate, but will take Bob back from the hospital and recovered any day over his wake.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms are a rupture of the primary vertical artery that runs through the chest cavity. It is a leading cause of death among American males, and is frequently misdiagnosed. Since his success (and survival) through the timely intercession of LifeFlight, Bob was asked to speak in Lewiston last week at a press conference and give his personal testimonial.
He gathered with several dignitaries from the American Red Cross, LifeFlight of Maine, and Governor Baldacci. Bob stole the stage from the Governor when he spoke about his own experiences with LifeFlight.
"I would not be alive and standing here today," Bob said, "if it were not for my two flight nurses Cathy Case and Robert Johnson, my pilot Joel Vigue and Terri Smith on Communications."
Bob went on to recount his trip to Bridgton Hospital in the back of the Sebago Rescue unit and his examination there. "Once they heard me say that I couldn't feel anything in my legs or feet, and they couldn't find a pulse there, everything happened at once!" LifeFlight was immediately called and hauled him off to Lewiston for the operation that saved his life. "And I don't remember a thing about my flight," he said. "I woke up in recovery after everything was over."
Bob received several units of blood on that flight, and he emphasized the importance that blood transfusions were to keeping him alive while he was airborne. "The LifeFlight helicopters are really small emergency rooms that fly," he said, "and they are equipped to handle most emergencies under difficult conditions."
Flight Nurse Cathy Case offered to take him up for a helicopter ride so that he could see what was going on this time, since he was unconscious on his last trip. "Can I take a rain check?" Bob asked.
"Sure, anytime. Just give us a call," Cathy said. "Besides, you are one of our stars and we appreciate all you've done today to help spread the good word about both LifeFlight and the Red Cross."
The press conference was the seasonal campaign of the Red Cross to replenish their supply of blood critical to anticipated emergency needs during the busy summer season. The slogan of the campaign is "Consider Yourself Asked - Give Blood", and all the speakers echoed the theme. Please do your part to support the American Red Cross during this summer blood drive. Call them at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit their website to find out where to give blood. To learn more about LifeFlight Maine, log on to their website.
Last updated June 21, 2005
Copyright © 2005, Allen Crabtree
Copyright © 2005, Allen Crabtree
This article was edited and published in the Bridgton News on June 16, 2005 under the title "Here is one life LifeFlight saved".