Trauma Teams Save Lives — Maybe Yours



Trauma Teams Save Lives — Maybe Yours

Twins Matthew and Melissa survived this head-on collision. Their chances were 25 percent better because they were within reach of a level-1 trauma center.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Saving the victim of a serious accident requires a fast, well-orchestrated, multi-team response — a response beyond what the average emergency room can provide. For that reason, hospitals began creating specialized trauma centers in the 1960s. Today, 90 percent of Americans live within one hour of a level-1 or level-2 trauma center, either by ambulance or helicopter.

A level-1 trauma center has general surgeons in-house and available 24 hours a day, with specialists in fields like neurology, orthopedics, and pediatrics available on short notice. The CDC estimates that treatment at a level-1 trauma center increases the chance of survival by 25 percent, which means thousands of Americans owe their lives to them. Twins Melissa and Matthew Gade count themselves among that group.

It was February 2009 when the fraternal twins, who were 17 at the time and traveling in separate cars, hit each other head-on on a rural road about a half a mile from the family farm in Iowa. Their father heard the crash and was first on the scene. “He didn’t know who to go to,” Melissa remembers. “He was running between the two, making sure that Matt was okay and I was okay.”

The closest trauma center was 120 miles away at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and a helicopter was sent to get them. As the siblings were flying toward Minnesota, two trauma teams were getting ready to receive them.

Twins Melissa and Matthew Gade are alive and well today because of the fast actions of the trauma team.

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“The trauma team mobilizes so quickly it’s amazing,” says Amy Williams, MD, medical director of hospital operations at the Mayo Clinic. “There are the trauma general surgeons, the orthopedic surgeons, the urologists, you name it, they’re there.”

Melissa was stable when she arrived, though she had broken bones and was in a lot of pain. Matthew was in more trouble. His heart was not pumping enough blood, and his blood oxygen was dangerously low. “There was a rapid escalation in the amount of care that he needed,” says Dr. Williams. When he emerged from his coma days later, he was surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day had come and gone.

Both siblings say they appreciate life more now than they did before the accident. “I slow down and look at things,” Matthew says.

“It definitely changes the way you look at every day,” says Melissa.






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Date: 09.12.2018, 09:11 / Views: 73351