by Dawn Kennedy
As I write this, we are preparing to move my husband, Mike, back to the Shepherd Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, a premiere rehab facility for traumatic brain injury.
Mike’s accident has my entire world turned upside down. My husband fell from a ladder onto concrete suffering four skull fractures, subdural and subarachnoid bleeds, contra-coup injury and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Thankfully, he is already in rehabilitation and is on the road to recovery. From the initial 911 call bringing him to the first ER, to the final interfacility transport to the rehab hospital, he has experienced six trips in an ambulance in the last 11 days. Both BLS and ALS and several different companies and agencies.
These various first responders and their agencies are part of the story of my husband’s survival, and his enhanced chances for recovery. Our family will always be grateful to them.
Our family would have been more grateful, however, if we had been treated more professionally and sympathetically throughout those first 24 hours of the emergency response. As this is an issue that may apply to the first responder community more widely, I hope it is appropriate to address it here.
Without calling out individual or agency names, the interfacility transport from the hospital in Columbus, Georgia, which treated the swelling brain, to Shepherd Center, did not acknowledge Mike’s frantic spouse, me, at all. They did not tell me to follow them, let me know that everything was going to be great… they got him, put him in the rig and pulled out of the driveway…Please, if you are on an interfacility a long distance and family is following, have empathy for the terrified driver behind you who doesn’t know where the new hospital is as well as you do, and who is going through a personal crisis. This is not just another call to the family. This is a loved one.
Once we got to Shepherd, Mike had a period of instability and had to be transported to Piedmont ICU for the weekend. THAT interfacility was fantastic. Central EMS came to Shepherd; AEMT LT. Brian Kim, and Paramedic Michael Stacy attended the call. Both were professional, empathetic, and compassionate. Considering that Mike was moving basically around the block, this could have been seen as just another short transport that didn’t matter. No ALS IV starts, meds, or other medical things. But the level of care and concern was truly amazing. Of course they did not know that I publish At the Ready, they did not know Mike is a combat vet and former Airborne Ranger. That did not matter, because these two understand the role of EMS when you are not “on scene” practicing medicine. During an interfacility you are “on scene” for the patient and family who is typically already past the acute injury. This was our emergency, not theirs, but they reassured us. Mike had a head injury (yeah, yeah, we sometimes use the word “gorked”) but they still spoke to him with respect and compassion. Bravo, guys. You left a lasting impact on a very grateful family.