Posted on September 2, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 5 of 24 in the series Nancy

Medevac for Brain Injury: Nancy Part Five

Nancy was taken to the hospital by ambulance.  A hospital that could not deal with her injuries so they had to Medevac for brain injury to a facility that could handle the extent of her injuries.


Having found a facility that could manage Nancy, despite the absence of a pediatric neurosurgeon, she is put in a motor vehicle ambulance and transferred to UW Hospital in Madison.  On a good day, it is a three hour drive.

So your daughter needs to be put in a Medevac for brain injury and taken to Madison?


The doctor grabbed me by the shoulders and she told me where they were going.  They gave me directions and she held me by the shoulders and she said: “You can’t follow the ambulance.  They’re going to be going at speeds that you can’t travel in your car and we want you to be safe.  We need you to be safe. And you need someone to drive you.”

And so my brother and my sister had come with me and everybody was… Like I said, I have a huge family.  And they were all pouring into the emergency room and offering money and credit cards, you know, you just kind of get so dumbfounded you don’t know what to do.

And I just said I just had go.  I have to leave now.  That’s all I wanted to do.

You found a volunteer to drive you?

My brother drove.




So your brother’s going to take you to Madison while your daughter is taken by Medevac for brain injury?


Slower rate than the Medevac for brain injury.  You have to leave your injured husband behind?


Have they done a CT scan on him yet?


Has anybody really paid any attention to him yet?

I was the only one in the room talking to him before we left, and when he said that he didn’t want to – if it delayed time getting her out of the hospital that he said: “I don’t want to see her if it delays time.”  So I kissed him and he said, “You have to go and you have to go and you have to get her there.  Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”  And I kissed him and told him I loved him and we were on our way.

When you get to Madison by Medevac for brain injury what happens?

Finally get to Madison and I walk through the door and in the emergency room. On my down I had cell phoned a friend that lives in Madison.  She’s my best friend and I talked to the ER staff and told her she would be the proxy until I got down there.  If there was some reason you couldn’t reach me by cell phone, that she could be my proxy and make decisions.  She’s in the medical field as well.  She’s an athletic trainer and physical therapist, so when I met her at the ER, there was a priest there.

What time is this?

Oh, it’s got to be close to Midnight or after, and I met that priest and the first thing I thought of was that she had passed away.  And on the way down there, there was a big bunch of lights towards the Dane County Airport exit and they had actually held up traffic and everything.  With all these lights, I thought oh my gosh, the ambulance had an accident or something happened to the ambulance and it was actually a shoot out that was going on.  I tell you the luck.

Fortunately your daughter was through there?

Yeah she was way passed that, which I didn’t realize.  We didn’t think we were that far behind them, but we were just taking our time getting down there safe. We had all these things running through our heads.

When I got there and I saw the priest and thought the worst had happened and I said, “What are you doing here?”  We were kind of rude and he said, “Well your pastor had called and wanted me to have some religious support here for you.”

Are you Catholic?

No, I’m Methodist. My husband’s Catholic.  I’ll take anybody who was there actually at that time.

What did the CT scan show of your daughter before they left and took her to Madison by Medevac for brain injury?

Before they left, the physician said that she has a frontal brain injury and they didn’t tell me to what severity or what was happening, but they had, they said she was lucky because it was an open wound and her forehead and, structure was fractured.  She said because of the traveling, she’s going to look totally different when you get down there, and the swelling and everything that the fractures would help her.  That’s positive to have that opening so.

They explained that because blood had somewhere to go?

Yeah.  And the brain the only way it knows to protect itself is to swell, and to keep as much moisture in place which is actually kind of the worst thing for it.  They kept my daughter in a drug-induced coma from the minute she was actually put in the ambulance because they didn’t want her to have any thrashing or other injuries caused by her motion or movement or if she should come around.

Had they  already started surgery when you get to Madison?

No, no.  I was able to see her.  They did another CT scan of her, maybe another, I don’t know if it was a CT scan or an MRI right now.  I don’t remember that. But I remember, a nurse coming to get us and meeting them like in a nice open cross section of the hospital, and she, , the surgeon, the third-year surgeon, pediatric surgeon, was there and said, “Why wasn’t she wearing helmet when she was on the snowmobile?”  You know, I’m looking at him.  “What do you mean on the snowmobile?”  I said, “She wasn’t on a snowmobile, she was in a truck.”  I said, the snowmobile was in back of the vehicle, but nothing had happened – the snowmobile didn’t, didn’t come through the cab.  There was no – anyway, so I think that was just her story.  She just misunderstood what had happened,.

Then they wheeled Nancy out.  She was – the doctor at that same time, I had my head turned towards the physician and she had said, “Well, I, we’re going to do this, we’re going to that.  We’re taking her forehead off, we’re – the forehead structure and skull and we’re going in and we’re debriding and we’re going to take care of this, and it’s going to be a four to eight hour surgery.”

I had my best friend with me and my sister and brother and when Nancy came wheeled out into that area, no one knew she was.  She had swollen so much that her ears were little round puff balls and she looked like a bad wrestler with cauliflower ear and she had swollen from her ears all the way down to her shoulder solid with fluid.  She was just – four hours of swelling.

I just grabbed her hand and I kissed it and I kissed her on the cheek and I said, “You fight, you fight as hard as you can.  I said you’re going to do it.  You’re going to come out of this and I’m going to see you in a little while.”   Gave her a kiss and gave her, her stuffed dog and a, and her bear blanket or whatever we called it and I had just thought to bring with me on the way.   My sister was hugging my brother and crying and my brother was crying and, and Terri Jo was sitting on the floor because she thought she would pass out because she’s never seen her like that before and Terri, Terri Jo that’s my friend.

She is Nancy’s godmother.  So she was holding on to my leg at the same time.  I don’t know if she was afraid she’d pass out and hit the floor, but and I’m turning around to them like, what’s the matter you guys and they were – I didn’t real, I totally forgot that they never saw her in the hospital.  Didn’t understand that this is how bad this was.  They didn’t realize that this is what we’re dealing with.


Next in Part Six – About the Skull Fracture and the Brain Surgery

By Attorney Gordon Johnson



About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447