It’s a miracle that Emma Keifer, 17, of Lehigh, is able to stand in front of the audience attending an EMS Appreciation Day at Trinity Regional Medical Center and talk about the ordinary things in her life.
Things like her golf score.
“Monday was 90,” she said. “Thursday it was 73, and yesterday it was 68.”
It’s also a miracle that she was able to attend her Southeast Webster Grand prom recently where she danced in her shiny sparkly cowboy boots.
“It was really fun,” she said.
Keifer was seriously injured on Oct. 27, 2013, when she was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of U.S. Highway 169 and 290th Street when she was driving home from a baby-sitting job.
The first person on the scene was Nicholas Dunbar, the Dayton police chief and an EMT. He was in Harcourt when the call came over the radio.
Dunbar did what he could.
“I didn’t leave her sight till the ambulance arrived,” he said.
After being taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center, she was airlifted by UnityPoint Health LifeFlight to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
Flight nurse Jill Austin was on that trip. She knew it was bad when the results of Keifer’s CT scan were delivered by a nurse.
“There’s a lot of injuries – they’re all bad,” she was told.
Fellow flight nurse Brian Dotts was also on the flight. He talked about the steps they took to treat her injuries including steps to reduce brain swelling and put her into a chemical coma.
Her mom, Angie Keifer, came along on the flight.
“Angie became our helper,” Dotts said.
Michael Zweigart, the LifeFlight program manager, said they hosted the event at Trinity to thank members of the local EMS services and provide them with an opportunity for some continuing education credit.
He said that the day’s training will help EMS workers in the field make a quicker assessment of their patient’s condition. By doing so, the request for air ambulance service can be started faster.
“It helps to decrease the time the patient waits,” he said.
With severe injuries, time is essential. The sooner a patient can be brought to a Level I trauma center, the greater the chance of survival becomes.
Zweigart said that the flights have also begun carrying blood along for the patients as well.
“Regional hospitals don’t have a lot of blood on hand,” he said. “They can keep their resources.”
He said they can also tailor where they take the patient to the specific injuries. A burn injury might go to one hospital, while a serious cardiac issue can best be treated at another facility.
“We don’t have to go back to Des Moines,” he said.
Regardless of the destination, speed is combined with expert life support and advance care onboard.
“We can fly at 150 miles per hour plus,” he said. “You can get someplace pretty quick.”
You can also hover and take a quick tour of the area. A short flight was given to the winners of a drawing among those who attending. Dunbar was one of those. He got to ride in the front. It was his first time in a helicopter.
“Fort Dodge seems a lot smaller when you’re in the air,” he said.