Around the clock, 365 days a year, Maryland’s emergency care providers work to save the lives of people who are injured in traumatic incidents. The University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center will honor this network of highly-skilled and dedicated caregivers at the annual Shock Trauma Gala, “A Night for Heroes,” on April 28 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The dramatic cases of two trauma patients from the past year will be retold at the gala, and the men and women involved in the rescue and recovery of these patients will receive Hero Awards. The patients will be there to thank their heroes, who include 911 operators, EMS personnel, flight paramedics, doctors, nurses and therapists.
"The Hero Awards are our opportunity to thank these men and women, who work day in and day out to save some of Maryland's most critically injured patients," says Thomas Scalea, M.D., physician-in-chief at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center and director of the Program in Trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The stories told at the gala exemplify the tireless dedication of these hard working professionals and remind us that one person cannot do it alone; it takes a team of well-coordinated medical professionals to save a trauma patient," adds Dr. Scalea.
Fifty-three people will receive Hero Awards for saving the life of Justin Breitenbach, a 17-year-old who was severely injured when a pick-up truck slammed into his small sedan as he pulled out of a Glen Burnie gas station on July 4th. The blow was so severe that the car’s roof caved in from the impact.
Within minutes of the crash, Anne Arundel County paramedics arrived on the scene and called for a Med-Evac helicopter to fly Breintenbach to Shock Trauma, where doctors discovered devastating injuries to his brain and lungs as well as fractures in his ribs, thigh bone and pelvis. But his most life-threatening problem was a rupture in his aorta, the body’s largest artery, an injury that kills more than 80 percent of people before they ever reach a hospital. Surgeons used a new, minimally invasive technique to repair the aorta that did not require opening the teenager's chest.
After several surgeries and 30 days at Shock Trauma, Breintenbach was transferred to Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital, where he stayed for several weeks. At Kernan, therapists helped the teenager re-learn how to walk and talk and other basic life functions. Today, he continues his recovery at home and says he is grateful to the dedicated men and women who saved his life.
"When the trauma patient meets his or her heroes at the gala, it is an incredibly emotional moment," says Gregory A. Devou, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of CareFirst BCBS, who is serving as chairman of the Shock Trauma gala for the tenth year. "And, for the heroes themselves, they get to see how their former patient is doing now and what a difference their work has made in the life of the patient and his or her family," adds Devou.
Jim Bergen will also be at the gala to meet the 50 heroes who saved his life following a motorcycle crash last summer, when he was riding his Harley Davidson to a friend’s annual end-of-summer party in Rising Sun. Uneven pavement in a construction zone caused the motorcycle to flip, throwing the 43-year-old 100 feet down the road.
Other drivers who saw the crash immediately called 911, and within minutes Cecil County paramedics and volunteers from the Singerly Fire House arrived on the scene. They called for a Med-Evac helicopter to rush Bergen to Shock Trauma. Coincidentally, both the flight paramedic and pilot grew up in the same Wilmington, Delaware, neighborhood where Bergen was raised.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that Bergen had heavy internal bleeding. During several hours of surgery, they removed his spleen and left lung, and opened his abdomen to relieve pressure. After surgery, Bergen’s condition worsened, so the trauma team put him on ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a device similar to a heart-lung machine that provides cardiac and respiratory support for patients whose heart and lungs are too damaged to work on their own. Doctors kept Bergen on ECMO for four days.
On October 28, 66 days after the crash, Bergen moved to Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital, where therapists worked with him on communication skills and taught him to speak through a tracheotomy tube. By November, Bergen was home with his family for Thanksgiving.
"These patients and their families show extraordinary resilience and determination. Their stories remind us of how lucky we are in Maryland to have the amazing coordination, response and critical care expertise of Shock Trauma and Maryland's EMS system," says Jeffrey A. Rivest, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Funds raised at the gala will benefit patient care services at Shock Trauma and the Maryland State Firemen's Association Scholarship Fund.
The black tie gala will be held from 6:00 p.m. until midnight on April 28 at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street. Tickets are $250 per person and include cocktails, a seated dinner, live music and dancing. For more information, call 410-328-4438.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.