Back in December right before Christmas, we received word at the ER in which I work that we were receiving a horribly injured young man from a head-on collison. Scrambling to prepare for his arrival (the accident occured outside Chinook on the Washington side of the Columbia River, and not that far from Astoria) - we feared the worst. The ambulance report was grim. Ben was unconscious and had an extremely low blood pressure. He arrested shortly after arrival, requiring CPR for several minutes while we performed multiple interventions - chest tubes, central lines, squeezing in units of blood as fast as they would go in. Lifeflight was on the ground, and the crew was ready to fly him to Emanuel (the big trauma hospital) as soon as we could stabilize him.
Ben's family and friends started a blog almost immediately, and I have been following his progress since the accident. Ben's case was an amazing example of tremendous teamwork, everything going right, and faith. I'm sure faith played a role.
Yesterday I attended a trauma conference in Portland highlighting three amazing trauma "saves." Ben Suprunowski was one of them. The panel that discussed his case included a First Responder, EMT, Lifeflight crew member, one of our Astoria surgeons, and Emanuel Hospital's trauma surgeon Dr. Long. I even got to comment on the Astoria part of his resuscitation (so glad the 200+ people in the auditorium were behind me so I couldn't see them). The best part of all? Ben was there. What an amazing young man. He makes me believe in miracles. Statistically speaking, cardiac arrest due to blunt force trauma is fatal. It used to be one of the "death in the field" criteria used by paramedics (along with decapitation, rigor mortis, etc.). Guess it's time to rethink that one.
A reporter from one of the Portland TV stations was at the conference:
I wish all our traumas had happy endings. Here's Ben's van: