By Blair Beggan, Director of Communications, The Association of Air Medical Services
This Mother’s Day, it’s important for us to give thanks to our mothers, but also to a committed group of men and women who provide care to most ill and injured mothers, fathers and children across the country, each and every day. Air medical flight teams, while not the most widely recognized of emergency care providers, deserve an extra pat on the back this Mother’s Day. Think of them as civilian soldiers on a mission for all of us, including our Moms.
Case in point. One stepmom, Sandra Hutton, experienced a flight team’s commitment firsthand when her stepson, Christopher Hutton, was in dire need of an air medical transport. Transporting a patient by air is beneficial because it not only provides a higher level of medical care to the patient en-route, but also because it provides faster access to critical medical care at a Level I or II Trauma facility. Sandra had been a flight nurse by profession for many years, but for the first time she found herself on the patient side of the situation. This Mother’s Day, Chris Hutton shares his scary experience last year, and why he is so thankful for his stepmom Sandra’s timely intervention using her membership to AirMed International, one of the leading air medical transport providers in the world.
As a first-year medical student at American University of the Caribbean located on Saint-Martin Island, Chris assumed that he would be the one saving lives – not having his life saved. Yet in 2014, Chris suddenly found himself having serious bladder issues. His wife Julie took him to the hospital to be checked by a doctor and, unfortunately, that’s where things took a turn for the worse. The island medical staff was unable to place a catheter correctly and traumatized Chris’ urethra. Then they inadvertently sliced off a segment of a plastic catheter inside Chris’ bladder. His situation deteriorated hour-by-hour as concerns mounted about an onset of peritonitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen's lining. “The island surgeon said he had sliced off the tip of the catheter. It wasn’t until we were back in the U.S. that the urologist told us it was a foot long piece of catheter,” Sandra said.
The Hutton’s knew they needed to get Chris off that island and to a higher level of medical care back in the United States. Sandra told him to make the call to AirMed. Once the call was made, AirMed put its operation in motion. “We talked to AirMed the entire time. We heard from them through email and through phone calls, they kept us informed every step of the way,” Sandra recalls. “My husband flew to Miami, and AirMed kept me informed of their aircraft and medical team status.”
“Lying in pain in a bed at night there at the island’s hospital, it was the worst feeling, to feel a million miles away from home,” says Chris. “Once the flight crew arrived, everything changed. I knew from the instant they walked in that I was safe, and on the road to recovery.”
AirMed transported Chris to the University of Miami Hospital early the next morning. Because it was an international flight, U.S. Customs came to the ramp to check all passports. A ground ambulance met the flight, and brought Chris to the hospital. “AirMed even arranged for a taxi to take Julie to the hospital when she was finished with Customs. It was just a level of completeness—AirMed saw to it that nobody was left stranded.” said Sandra.
Chris was taken into surgery in Miami to remove the catheter and further assess the situation. A new catheter was inserted and remained in place for 3 days. Once it was removed, Chris and Julie were able to return to St. Martin to resume his medical school studies with a new understanding of what it is like to be the patient. Since he’s been back at school, Sandra has helped Chris write a protocol for the medical school he attends to try and put some sort of medevac membership policy in place.
So this Mother’s Day, remember to give thanks to the men and women who work hard to keep our families intact with excellent patient care in the air! Please keep them in your prayers. You can read more of Chris’s story at http://aams.org/chris-peritonitis-risk-necessitates-repatriation-u-s/.