Flight for Your Life

You’re hurt. If you don’t get to an emergency room in a hurry, you’ll die. What you need is a medical helicopter to take you on the …

ALL AROUND HER WAS THE ROAR OF THE helicopter and the smell of her own lost blood. Fourteen-year-old Patricia Bowen focused her frightened eyes on the flight nurse crouched over her head. “Am I going to die?” she asked. Patricia had been stabbed twelve times and was bleeding from her neck, chest, abdomen, and hands. As the helicopter flew at 130 miles per hour toward Houston’s Hermann Hospital, nurse Georgie Brown grabbed IV’s and began pumping fluids into Patricia. “No, honey,” replied Georgie. She carefully locked eyes with her patient. “Hang in there. Don’t give up.”

Slightly more than half an hour earlier, Patricia had answered the door of her middle-class home amid tall pine trees in northwest Houston. A fifteen-year-old boy stood before her. He asked her for a cold drink. Reluctantly, she agreed. Once they were in the house, the boy grabbed her, held her to his chest, and slit her throat with a knife. Again and again he stabbed her. Twice she felt the knife rip into her chest. When she held up her hands to protect herself, he slashed her fingers. Then he fled through the front door. Patricia stumbled after him, collapsing on the front lawn. A neighbor ran over, took one look at Patricia’s bloodstained body, and telephoned 911 for help.

Georgie Brown’s pager went off with a high-pitched whine at 2:19 p.m. on December 10. Within five minutes, Georgie, paramedic Guy Stevenson, and pilot Taylor Jordan converged on the helipad of Hermann Hospital and were soon lifting off. In flight, Georgie and Guy checked their equipment, popped their fingers into rubber gloves, and listened to information via radio about Patricia’s condition from an Emergency Medical Service ground crew. What they heard from the para-medics wasn’t good. Patricia’s blood pressure was dangerously low, between fifty and sixty, and there were decreased breath sounds in her left lung. She was bleeding to death. Inside the helicopter, Georgie’s and Guy’s adrenaline levels soared like those of a couple of runners trapped behind the starting line. Nothing focuses the mind and heightens the physical senses as does the battle with death.

It took only sixteen

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