“A Night for Heroes” Honors the Men and Women Who Saved the Lives of Two Patients
At this year’s University of Maryland Shock Trauma Gala, 96 men and women will receive Hero Awards for their roles in saving the lives of a Charles County emergency medical technician and a Washington, D.C., teenager – two cases that exemplify the unique coordination and expertise of Shock Trauma and Maryland’s EMS system. Both former patients will thank their heroes personally at the gala, which will be held Saturday, April 22 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
“The gala’s Hero Awards dramatically illustrate just how many people are involved in saving a life,” says Thomas Scalea, M.D., Physician-in-Chief at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and Director of the Program in Trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “These heroes include 911 operators, firefighters, EMS providers, Maryland State Police Aviation Command, nurses, physicians, technicians and rehabilitation specialists. They all do amazing work, and the gala is our opportunity to acknowledge their medical expertise and tireless dedication to treating Maryland’s most critically injured patients.”
The first case to be highlighted at the gala is the story of a Charles County emergency medicine technician who, in an instant, found himself on the other side of a rescue, becoming the person who needed to be rescued. Preston Ferguson was driving home from a pool game in Waldorf in January 2005 when he lost control of his SUV after swerving to avoid two deer and then colliding with two other deer on Route 301. Ferguson’s vehicle slid into a telephone pole and off the road, where it began to sink in a ditch of icy water.
When paramedics arrived, they recognized the crash victim as one of their own. They called for the Go Team, a rapid response unit of Shock Trauma physicians and nurse anesthetists who can assist EMS providers in life-or-death situations. With Ferguson pinned in his SUV and critically injured, the Go Team knew they had little choice – they had to amputate Ferguson’s left leg to extract him from the wreckage if he was going to survive.
A MedEvac helicopter team then flew Ferguson to Shock Trauma. Doctors and nurses there worked on his other injuries including extensive damage to his right leg.
Thirty-four days after the crash, Ferguson began intensive rehabilitation therapy; however, his recovery was not simple. He had multiple setbacks and spent weeks in several different hospitals. Finally, he moved to Kernan Hospital to finish his rehabilitation. Today, Ferguson is rebuilding his life with his girlfriend Kathyrn.
“Fifty-six people will receive Hero Awards at the gala for their role in saving Preston Ferguson. One person cannot do it alone; it takes a team of well-coordinated medical experts,” says John Spearman, Vice President of the Shock Trauma Center.
The more than 1,700 people attending the gala will also hear about the rescue and recovery of 16-year-old Alexandra “Allie” Gold. She was spending Memorial Day weekend on Gibson Island, and she and her friend decided to explore the area on a golf cart. The friend said that while they were riding, she heard a deafening scream – Gold had somehow fallen out of the cart.
Anne Arundel Country paramedics arrived to find the teenager bleeding from her left ear and breathing only five to six times a minute, one-third the normal rate. A MedEvac helicopter team airlifted her to the Shock Trauma Center, where physicians and nurses assessed her neurological status using the Glascow coma scale. A normal score is 15, Gold was a seven.
A CT scan showed that Gold had a severe brain injury. She needed emergency surgery to release the pressure from her brain and her organs were beginning to shut down. Following the surgery, the team wanted to do more to relieve the head pressure and help her other organs function, so they positioned the teenager on a tilt table, which raised her body into a more upright position.
After many days of uncertainty, Allie began to improve. Twenty eight days after her fall, Gold left Shock Trauma to begin six weeks of intense rehabilitation. She is now a student at Maret School in Washington, D.C., taking advanced placement classes and receiving nothing less than a B plus. A total of 40 health care professionals who helped save her life will be honored at the gala.
“The gala gives us a chance to thank these dedicated trauma doctors, nurses and other staff as well as the thousands of emergency medical service providers throughout the state," says Jeffrey Rivest, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “The expertise of the Shock Trauma staff and their EMS partners is world-renowned. Marylanders should feel confident in the knowledge that our trauma center and EMS providers are simply the best.”
The gala will be held from 6:00 pm until midnight on April 22 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets are $250 per person and include cocktails, a seated dinner, live music and dancing.
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