Ron Ackerman 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 and broke several of the ladder’s rungs with his head as he shot to the ground.
His head injury was so severe that paramedics called in Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance 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 to keep Ron alive.
Because Nightingale functions as a mobile critical care unit, the crew has medical equipment and medication to provide the intensive care needed immediately after a life-threatening emergency, often known as the golden hour.
Thanks to the Nightingale crew and Dr. Paul Mitchell, emergency department physician, Ron is alive. He has undergone physical rehabilitation and suffers from some complications of a serious brain trauma, but he is in good health.
“Denise, her crew and Dr. Paul Mitchell were God-sent saviors to me,” said Ron. “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.
Nurse Denise feels humbled to help people.
“This job has taught me not to sweat the small stuff,” she said. “Literally, your life can change in an instant.”