Stevensville resident Kayla McCahan will be attending the University of Maryland this fall, thanks to the lifesaving efforts of the men and women of the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department and the Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department.
These local heroes, and more than 90 others, were honored with a “Hero Award” at the annual University of Maryland Shock Trauma Gala held at the Baltimore Convention Center on April 24. The award goes to professionals involved in a rescue and recovery and illustrates just how many people, from doctors and nurses to emergency dispatchers and physical therapists, it takes to save one life.
The Shock Trauma staff selects two patient stories to tell at the gala, using interviews, 911 audio, video and photos. These stories show the dedication and expertise of the medical professionals honored at the gala as well as the unique coordination between the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and Maryland’s Emergency Medical System, a model emulated around the world. This year’s patients were McCahan, who survived being trapped in a car after a serious automobile accident, and a Cumberland teen who survived a devastating gunshot wound in a hunting accident.
“We thanked the 93 individuals involved in these two cases….in doing so, we also honor the hundreds of other providers — emergency dispatchers, firefighters, EMS providers, Maryland State Aviation Command personnel, nurses, physicians, technicians and rehabilitation therapists — who dedicate their lives to saving Maryland’s most critically injured patients,” says Thomas Scalea, M.D., physician-in-chief at the Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Scalea is also the Francis X. Kelly Professor of Trauma Surgery and the director of the Program in Trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“The perseverance of these trauma patients and their caregivers is truly inspiring. The gala gives us a chance to honor their courage and to thank the dedicated trauma doctors, nurses and other staff, as well as the thousands of emergency medical service providers throughout the state, who do everything they can to help these patients recover,” said Jeffrey Rivest, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
McCahan was home for winter break from James Madison University in 2009 when she was driving on a slippery road and crashed her car into a telephone pole. The Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department and Crumpton Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to the scene and got McCahan’s two friends out of the vehicle quickly, but the 19-year-old remained trapped. Her condition rapidly deteriorated as the rescuers worked for ten minutes to cut McCahan out of the car while waiting for the arrival of a Medevac helicopter. When she had trouble breathing, medics performed rapid sequence intubation, an advanced medical technique used to insert a breathing tube, but McCahan went into cardiac arrest.
The county DES paramedics used medicines to get the teenager’s pulse back but she went into cardiac arrest again on the flight to the hospital and a third time while awaiting a CT scan at Shock Trauma. Through the use of medications, CPR and chest tubes, the Shock Trauma team was able to get McCahan’s heart re-started. Then they had to deal with the effects of the crash, including massive blood loss, a punctured lung and a brain injury so severe she could not respond to even basic commands for several days.After nearly two weeks of intensive care at Shock Trauma, McCahan moved to another facility where she continued brain rehabilitation for another 10 weeks. This fall she plans to continue her college education studying audiology and speech pathology when she joins her brother at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“Queen Anne’s County can be proud of their EMS system” said John Chew, Director of the Queen Anne’s County’s DES.
“This is the second time in five years that units from Queen Anne’s County have been recognized at the Gala.”
“This is an extraordinary achievement for our emergency services personnel, both volunteer and professional,” said County Commissioner Carol Fordonski, the liaison to the department. Fordonski said she knows first hand the quality of emergency services in Queen Anne’s County after recently suffering a fall in her home. “Ambulances arrived almost immediately and quickly stabilized me and transported me to the hospital with as little discomfort as possible, she said. “It should be a great comfort to all the residents of Queen Anne’s County to know we have such dedicated emergency service professionals and volunteers. They truly are the heroes in our community,” said Fordonski.
Kayla’s mother, Stacey, who is a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital, said she couldn’t agree more. “These people saved my daughter’s life; they were there within minutes. If you live in Queen Anne’s County, you are so lucky. They gave me back my daughter,” she said.