When 6-year-old Reagan Roberts was accidentally hit in the head by a baseball bat while playing softball at her home in Farina in March, her parents, Julie and Kevin, rushed their daughter to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital.
Upon arrival, it became clear the girl needed immediate surgery to treat brain bleeding and skull damage. The Roberts family relied on ARCH Air Medical Services to transport Reagan to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Reagan visited the organization’s headquarters Saturday during an event highlighting 10 years of service in the Effingham area.
“Everyone here was good to her,” said Reagan’s mother, Julie.
Reagan, who is the reigning 2013 Little Miss Fayette County fair queen, visited with members of the crew wearing a dress and tiara, this time under much happier circumstances.
“I liked the helicopter ride, but they didn’t have music on the headphones they gave me,” joked Reagan.
Reagan hugged Dave Meiners, who served as in-flight paramedic on Reagan’s trip to St. Louis, and thanked the men for the life-saving transportation.
“She had a blood clot in the brain and needed specialized care,” said Meiners, who has worked for ARCH for 10 years with 30 more as a ground paramedic.
Meiners said the advanced practice nurses and paramedics can offer a variety of life-saving measures while in transport. In an emergency, one often has trouble breathing and paramedics can provide rapid sequence induction of air and general anesthesia, which allows a patient to receive a breathing tube.
“It is difficult putting a tube down someone’s throat when they are awake, so we can put them to sleep,” said Meiners.
Over his career, Meiners has seen some of the most dire situations one can imagine. Whether that be an accident like Reagan’s, a heart attack, an emergency with an older patient or a serious car accident, Meiners said, “we are lucky enough to be there and in some small way help.”
“We are there in the significant, life-changing moments,” he said.
Those moments have been greatly assisted over the years by the ability to expedite the transportation process. According to ARCH helicopter pilot Mike Daly, a patient can be flown from St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital to Springfield in 35 minutes.
“If the wind is right, I can have someone there in 25 minutes,” said Daly, comparing it to the two-hour drive to Springfield.
Young Reagan was greatly assisted by her quick transport to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
“After a fractured skull, seven plates and 22 screws later, she has made a full recovery,” said Julie. “All we have to worry about is growing back some hair.”
Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, at email@example.com or on Twitter @Ednthuffman.