Emergency medical crews honored

Two groups helped save lives of accident victims

May 23, 2004|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Timing is everything.

Just ask the emergency medical technicians at Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company who were returning to the station Sept. 2 when they witnessed a 5-year-old girl get hit by a pickup truck.

"It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time," said Wendy Bowersox, lead paramedic on the ambulance who helped save the little girl's life that day.

For their efforts, Bowersox and EMTs Stephanie Lowry, Josh Willet, Bethany Six and Wendy Parker were honored recently with the Star of Life Award from Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

"The award is given to individuals, multiple individuals or a team on the same incident for an outstanding rescue by EMS personnel," institute spokesman Jim Brown said of the honor, which was presented Monday in Annapolis.

The day of the accident, Bowersox and ambulance driver Josh Willet saw a football sail across the street in front of them and watched in horror as Morgan Longenecker darted in front of the truck.

"We were actually afraid she would be run over by our ambulance. She actually landed behind the ambulance - that's how close we were," Bowersox said.

The crew immediately stopped, assessed Morgan and called for a medical helicopter to take her to the Johns Hopkins pediatric trauma center in Baltimore.

"The little girl wasn't breathing for five to eight minutes and didn't make any attempt to breathe until the utility [truck] got there," Bowersox said. "We were using the bag valve mask and breathing for her."

The EMTs started an intravenous solution and stabilized Morgan, who was breathing on her own by the time the helicopter arrived.

Brenda Longenecker, Morgan's mother, said her daughter remained in a coma for two days with pelvic injuries and a blood clot on the left side of her brain.

After a week at Hopkins, Morgan spent about three weeks at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for rehabilitation.

"She's doing pretty good," Brenda Longenecker said last week. "She has a contusion on the brain that they said would take six months to a year to go away, but she's back in school and she's doing really good."

Also last week, an EMT crew from Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company earned an award for saving the life of a 33-year-old man who was injured in an accident last year.

Paramedic Lisa Elliott and EMTs Ray Mattison, Carl Morgenstern and Chad Reese were to receive Maryland Shock Trauma Center's Hero Award last night at the center's annual A Night for Heroes gala.

On the morning of May 9 last year, Tim Stewart, an employee of Roll-Off Express on Dede Road in Finksburg, had filled a tractor-trailer tire with air and was next to it when it exploded.

"The sidewall of the tire hit him and knocked him about 15 to 20 feet away, where he landed on a pile of tires," Elliott said. "He was lucky the tire rim didn't hit him because it would have killed him. He had head, chest and abdominal injuries, which were seriously life-threatening."

The Reese company sent additional personnel to help Stewart, who was put on two intravenous solutions, a heart monitor and oxygen.

Because of fog, the medical helicopters weren't flying, so the crew had to take him by land to Shock Trauma.

"We got him down there in about 25 minutes, which was really good, what with the fog, traffic and construction," Elliott said. "My driver, Raymond Mattison, was excellent.

"I think that's one reason they [Shock Trauma] considered it an exceptional rescue, because of all the things we had working against us," she said.

Stewart's wife, Pat, said the doctors told her that any one of his injuries was severe enough to kill him. He had a collapsed left lung; colon, spleen, liver and stomach damage; a shattered rib; and a torn aorta.

He remained in Shock Trauma for five weeks and has endured at least eight surgeries, the most recent in February.

Shock Trauma honors not only the ambulance crew that is the first to respond to an accident, but everyone involved in saving a victim's life. Thirty-two people were honored for helping to save Stewart.

"The criteria includes the type of injury and the number of people involved in saving one life, which goes all the way from the 911 dispatcher who took the call, all the way to the housekeeper keeping the bay doors open," said Cindy Rivers, a spokeswoman for Shock Trauma.

Both awards were part of National Emergency Medical Services Week, which began May 16.

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