When someone in Nightingale’s service area — which spans from Greater Hampton Roads to northeastern North Carolina — experiences a life-threatening illness or injury and needs emergency treatment, the Sentara critical care staff and rapid transport helicopter cut vital minutes off the trip.
What would take 45 minutes by ground takes only ten minutes by air. Crew members stay focused on the task at hand, despite what often are troubling circumstances on the ground. Read some of the stories of patients who have been saved by Nightingale.
Survivor: Talia Jackson
In 2009, while on a family vacation, two-year-old Talia Jackson was airlifted by Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Talia had been viciously attacked by a pit bull and needed to be transported for emergency care. She was treated at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.
Penny Jackson, Talia’s mother, wrote a heartwarming letter commending the Nightingale staff who worked that day:
To Whom it May Concern:
As I celebrated our daughter Talia’s second birthday, I couldn’t help but think of how close we were to not having this moment; May 1, 2009, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier with bites to the face and head, and needed to be life flighted into Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s Shock Trauma Unit.
After a lot of worrying, a lot of prayers, and a LOT of hard work done by the first responders, the Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance staff, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital staff and the staff at Children’s Hospital of The King's Daughters, we had a safe, happy, beautiful little girl back in our arms.
While the names [of our caregivers] have long ago faded from my memory, your faces and efforts to keep our family together will never leave me.
THANK YOU for everything you do, not only for my baby, but ESPECIALLY for my baby. Please rest easy at night knowing that you are truly angels on earth, putting the lives of others, like my daughter’s and mine, back together one shift at a time.
Penny L. Jackson, mother of Talia R. Jackson
Survivor: Ronald Ackerman
The Golden Hour
On September 22, 2003, Ron was working as a contractor, fixing a roof after a tree fell on it. As he stepped from his ladder to the tree to access the roof, the tree shifted. Ron fell off the ladder, breaking several of its rungs with his head as he fell to the ground.
His head injury was so severe that paramedics called in Nightingale to speed his journey to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Denise Baylous was the nurse on Nightingale that day; she and her flight partners, paramedic, Chet Flemming, and pilot, John Stanley, worked together to keep Ron alive while flying to the hospital.
Because Nightingale functions as a mobile critical care unit, the crew has medical equipment and medication that enable them to provide the intensive care needed during a life-threatening emergency, often known as the golden hour.
Thanks to the amazing work of the Nightingale crew and Dr. Paul Mitchell, Emergency Department physician, Ron is alive today and functioning “just like everyone else.” He has undergone much physical rehabilitation and still suffers from some complications of a serious brain trauma, but he is in good health and extremely thankful to be here.
Ron says, “Denise, her crew and Dr. Paul Mitchell were God-sent saviors to me. Had it not been for Nightingale, I wouldn’t be here today.” Ron’s wife, Chris, was so inspired by the care from Sentara that she is now in nursing school so that she, too, can help others.
Denise feels “very humbled” to help the people she helps. She says, “This job has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Literally, your life can change in an instant.”
Survivor: Kevin Price
Like Father, Like Son: Nightingale Changes a Family's Story
Kevin Price, a 1st Class Petty Officer from Washington state, was enjoying his annual Outer Banks vacation with his family. One evening, Kevin felt ill, but attributed it to too much sun. Within minutes, he was experiencing excruciating pain in his left arm. Kevin was having a heart attack at the age of 36.
As his wife drove him to the Outer Banks hospital, they contacted the sheriff, who called an ambulance to meet them. The EMTs quickly made the decision to request the Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance to transport Kevin to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where he would undergo emergency catheterization.
The Nightingale crew landed in Duck, immediately began treating Kevin en route and reached the hospital in only 16 minutes. In less than 3 hours, Kevin was in the cath lab at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital undergoing a life-saving procedure.
Kevin’s story depicts the importance of an advanced air ambulance service as he understands only too well…Kevin’s own father died at age 36 from a heart attack.
Survivor: Patricia Jackson
Patricia Jackson was saying goodbye to friends at a cookout, when suddenly she was struck with a piercing headache and soon fell unconscious.
Mrs. Jackson had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, specifically a brain aneurysm, and emergency surgery was needed—fast. Nightingale came to the rescue, airlifting Jackson from Albemarle Hospital to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which is certified as a stroke center by DNV.
"The nurses at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital call me a ‘miracle lady’ because I’m not supposed to be here,” said Patricia, who not only survived the flight and the surgery, but was discharged after just ten days without the need for rehab.
Survivor: Mike Donckers
A teacher and head football coach at Tidewater Academy in Wakefield was driving home from a Thanksgiving visit with his parents in Nag’s Head.
He was only about five miles from his home, when a deer appeared on the dark road. He swerved to avoid hitting the deer, the car rolled and his shoulder harness failed, throwing his head through the windshield.
Mike was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. His injuries left him hospitalized for several weeks, but he was grateful for his full recovery.
Survivor: Chester Bailey
As a volunteer firefighter, Chester “Chet” Bailey thought that by helping his neighbor burn trash on Hatteras Island, N.C., he would be able to prevent a disaster. Yet, in a moment, an explosion created a flash fire that resulted in second- and third-degree burns covering half of Chet’s body, primarily on his face, neck, chest, arms and knees.
Chet’s firefighter buddies responded to the 911 call. He was airlifted by Sentara Nightingale to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Burn Trauma Center.
“When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was,” Chet says. “I thought I was going to die.”
Skin grafts were needed for his knee, and special dressings for severe burns were applied to his arms and fingers after the burned skin was scraped away.
Today, other than scarring on one hand, there are no signs of the painful burns that covered Chet’s body, and he is back to work and a normal life.
"I have a new respect for Sentara’s therapists and nurses,” Chet says. “I was amazed at their kindness and support.”