This fall, Mitchell Amundson of Dilworth, Minnesota, was in a hunting accident that nearly killed him. Doctors, nurses and paramedics in both Jamestown and Fargo, North Dakota, helped save his life, including three members of Sanford AirMed.
So when Mitchell asked if he could visit them after he recovered from his injuries, well, it made for an emotional reunion.
“To be able to come here and actually meet these guys in person and see this incredible piece of equipment that is the reason my son is alive today is so overwhelming. The word ‘thank you’ seems so insignificant right now that I can’t even,” said Deanna Amundson, Mitchell’s mother.
Team of lifesavers
Ross Miller, Caleb Behm and Daniel Dudeck were the members of the flight crew on Mitchell’s fateful day, and they recalled a harrowing journey to Sanford’s Level I Trauma Center in Fargo.
“He was very sick the whole ride,” said Behm, a flight nurse. “We didn’t know if he was gonna make it or not, but you can’t think about that. You just keep trying, use all the tools that we had in our toolbox and hope that the ending works out.”
Mitchell lost four liters of blood following his accident, so the crew spent most of the flight giving him multiple transfusions. But as the helicopter flew into Fargo, Mitchell went into cardiac arrest. The crew used an automated device to keep his heart pumping while they raced the clock.
Thankfully, Mother Nature provided a helping hand on the flight home in the form of a 30-mph tailwind.
“It was a game changer,” said Dudeck, a rotor wing pilot. “And I would actually say a lifesaver.”
The crew showed Mitchell the helicopter, including where he was lying while they worked on him. But mostly, they shared a lot of smiles and a few tears, which was something the crew appreciated almost as much as their patient.
“We don’t get to see them walking, talking. We’re very grateful that we got this opportunity to see him today and I’m glad that he’s able to be here with us,” said Behm. “It’s a career maker.”
“I’m new to the medical world,” said Dudeck. “I knew I was gonna get a little emotional, but it’s awesome. It’s awesome. It’s gratifying to know that our training and what we do, we can make a difference. So it’s great to see him.”
For his part, Mitchell was all smiles, and brimming with gratitude for these three men who had a hand in saving his life.
“The buildup for it was … it definitely didn’t let me down. I was excited and nervous and every other emotion. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was definitely something I will never forget,” said Mitchell. “It’s huge to come back and even see the emotion in their eyes and just the happiness and sheer joy. That it’s not all bad endings for everyone.”
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