On September 11, the nation was reminded how many people it can take to save just one life. Now, nearly seven months after the attacks on the United States, more than 1,600 people will come together on April 27 for the Shock Trauma Gala to honor the many men and women in Maryland who work all year long to save the most critically injured patients.
The gala, "A Night for Heroes," will be held downtown at the Baltimore Convention Center. In addition to dinner and dancing, Maryland's emergency medical personnel will be applauded and the successful rescues of two critically injured patients will be highlighted.
It was a spring morning in May of 2001 when Maryland State Trooper Ben Young opted for overtime. He had just completed a midnight shift at the La Plata Barracks in Charles County when he called his fiancée, Emily, to say he would be working "school bus enforcement," a job that ensures children arrive to school safely. Emily ended the conversation by saying, "Be safe."
"I got sort of annoyed. I thought how would I be hurt working school bus enforcement?" recalls Trooper Young. But soon after, the 23-year-old trooper responded to the scene of a car crash in Waldorf. He assisted by stopping traffic as a tow-truck operator attempted to raise a pickup truck with an attached trailer onto the platform of the tow truck. That's when a chain snapped, and a hook from the tow truck became airborne. It struck Ben directly above his right eyebrow.
At first it was unclear how seriously Trooper Young was hurt. He was talking and providing his own emergency contact information. But he was losing a lot of blood.
EMS crews on the scene quickly decided to have Trooper-2, a medivac helicopter, fly him to Shock Trauma. While in the helicopter, Trooper Young's condition quickly deteriorated, and he began having seizures. Trooper-2 quickly landed at Andrews Air Force Base to pick up another flight medic so that rapid sequence intubation, or RSI, could be used. RSI is a highly sophisticated technique that requires temporarily paralyzing a patient while his airway is stabilized. RSI ultimately kept Trooper Young breathing, and doctors credit RSI with saving his life.
When he arrived at the Shock Trauma Center, the medical team determined that he had severe facial trauma and a head injury.
Almost 16 hours after Trooper Young was hurt, he was able to write notes to his fiancée and his parents that read: I am okay. And now, 11 months after being hit in the head, he has made a significant recovery.
Trooper Young spent eight days in Shock Trauma where he underwent two surgeries. Today, while he still takes anti-seizure medications, he is back on the job, helping people. And Emily has since become his wife.
"Maryland's EMS system is known worldwide for its excellent coordination, response and care of severely injured patients," says John W. Ashworth III, director of the Shock Trauma Center and chief operating officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. "Trooper Young's case is just one example of the dedication, hard work and success of the people and the system that we honor at the Shock Trauma Gala," adds Mr. Ashworth.
The second case highlighted will be that of a Baltimore area woman. It was a summer evening when this woman decided it was time for bed. She was just about to fall asleep when her husband came into the room and began shooting her. "I could not breathe. I couldn't move either. It was hard for me to believe that my husband was doing this," she says when she remembers that night last July.
The woman was shot in the chest, face and thigh. She was also struck in the head with the gun countless times. But somehow she was able to crawl off the bed and onto the floor. From there she was able to reach for a phone and dial 911. Shortly before that phone call, she heard her husband fumble with the gun and shoot himself.
She was flown by Trooper-3 from her home to the Shock Trauma Center. She was bleeding uncontrollably. Friends remember that even her tears were bloody.
After giving her transfusions with more than 90-units of blood, the physicians at Shock Trauma used a rare drug called Factor-7 to attempt to stop the bleeding. Factor 7 is a blood derivative used to help the body form clots. It worked.
She stopped bleeding, but she had multiple internal injuries that needed to be repaired. After six surgeries and 23 days at Shock Trauma, this mother of three returned home to her family and friends.
"The mission of Shock Trauma is to save lives," says John Spearman, vice president of Shock Trauma. He adds, "Every day, patients like the two who will be recognized at the gala are admitted and every day, the staff here at Shock Trauma works hard to keep them alive."
"Maryland residents should be comforted in knowing that they live near the world's first and finest trauma center," says Senator Frank Kelly, chairman of the Shock Trauma Center Board of Visitors. The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, located at the University of Maryland Medical Center, remains the only free-standing trauma hospital in the world. It opened 32 years ago. Today, over 7,000 critically ill patients are admitted and treated each year at Shock Trauma. Ninety-six percent of the patients survive.
The two patients whose cases will be highlighted at the gala will join Thomas Scalea, M.D., physician-in-chief of Shock Trauma, on stage as he distributes awards to the dozens of men and women who will be recognized for their heroic efforts to save their lives.
From the 911 operators, to the Fire/EMS/Rescue crews, to the flight medics, to the doctors, to the nurses, it clearly takes many to save just one precious life.
The gala will take place from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on April 27 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets are $250 per person and include cocktails, a seated dinner, live music, dancing and the presentation of the Hero Awards. Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket for the gala may call 410-328-GIFT.
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