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Patient 2016 Stories

Hudson and James Frost

Fraternal twins Hudson and James Frost arrived nearly 10 weeks early through an emergency Cesarean section at Sewickley Valley Hospital. Within moments of the infants’ birth, West Penn’s Neonate Team crews placed each incubator in one of two LifeFlight helicopters and rushed the boys to West Penn Hospital’s Neonatal ICU (NICU). Parents Randi and Chris Frost, of Cranberry, only got to touch each of the newborns’ feet before they left. “I think the babies had a better chance for a better outcome, because there were two separate teams to take care of them,” said Cindy Mueller, supervisor of the NICU and neonatal transport team at West Penn Hospital. “Two teams give us the extra personnel, extra ventilators, and it gives parents the opportunity to see them leave at the same time.” Shortly after James was born, Randi said, he stopped breathing, but the West Penn Neonate team provided the life-saving treatment he needed. “Chris and I were in complete amazement. Our boys were lifted up and transported to the city to save their lives. Our little babies were saved by these crews and helicopters.” After spending seven weeks in West Penn’s NICU, the two boys are doing well, joining their big brother Jude at home.

Eric Funk

As Commander of Marclay Ambulance Service, Eric Funk deals with challenges on a daily basis, but his positive attitude and perseverance enables him to take on every problem in stride.  Walking outside of the EMS station to get the mail one morning, Eric, of Markleysburg, began to feel lightheaded and dizzy. “I checked my pulse and I couldn’t count it because it was so fast and irregular.  So I went back into the station to use the cardiac monitor and found that I was in an uncontrolled rapid atrial fibrillation,” Eric said.  His son Steven, who is a paramedic student, began caring for his Dad and immediately called their good friend and coworker, paramedic Ed Hoffman, for help.  LifeFlight was called and took Eric to Allegheny General Hospital, where he was treated with medications, after which Eric’s heart returned to a regular rhythm. Eric went through follow up visits with AGH’s cardiology department and will continue to be monitored. Eric is now fully recovered and back to work at Marclay Ambulance with the same positive attitude.

Cameron Pittman

Cameron Pittman and his grandmother, Gayle Fratangeli, soared over Western Pennsylvania in a LifeFlight helicopter on a crystal clear day. Cameron's joy turned to surprise when the helicopter landed in center field at PNC Park. Pittsburgh Pirate center fielder Andrew McCutchen greeted Cameron. "I can't even explain it. I was amazed and I was confused, kind of, a little bit," Cameron said. The Altoona

Pittsburgh Pirates, and Pirates Charities. Cameron ate with McCutchen and was a bat boy for a game, hanging out with players in their locker room. "I just want to thank them, and I'm grateful," Cameron said of the Pirates and LifeFlight. "It was just a really awesome day." "Just to be able to see him happy, to be a kid and not have to think, 'Gee, I was sick,' just to be a kid was the greatest thing I could see," Gayle said. "All he kept saying was, 'This is the best day of my life.'"

Bonnie Ridenour

Though Bonnie Ridenour knew her medical condition was serious, she was still excited to fly on LifeFlight. “I couldn’t wait to tell my four grandkids that I was on LifeFlight,” Bonnie, of Washington Township, Westmoreland County, said. Bonnie was enjoying French toast and bacon at the Creekside Diner in Apollo with her aunt and uncle, Jim and Jeanie Smith. “I looked at my aunt and said, ‘Something’s wrong. My hands and face are numb.’ She said, ‘You’re having a stroke.’ She said my mouth was funny,” Bonnie said. EMS personnel from Oklahoma VFD/EMS and AK Pulser Paramedic Response took Bonnie to Forbes Hospital, then a LifeFlight crew flew her to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Allegheny General. “I’m very grateful. They treated me very respectfully and nice,” Bonnie said of the LifeFlight crew. “They treated me like a person. They even told me they liked my jeans and my shoes,” Bonnie said.  She spent a week at AGH recovering from a major occlusive stroke that affected the left side of her body. She also underwent weeks of physical and occupational therapy. “They told me I’d be lucky to walk again. Now I’m running and doing everything I could do by myself, doing laundry, going up and down stairs,” Bonnie said.

Wayne Sias

Initially, it was a normal workday for Wayne Sias and his co-workers with Tree Monkeys tree service in Indiana County, but that changed in just seconds. A large branch fell and struck Wayne, who was wearing a hard hat, in the head. When a responding crew from Citizens Ambulance arrived, they found him unconscious but still breathing. The trauma center was an hour away by ambulance, so LifeFlight was summoned for the 10-minute flight to Forbes Hospital’s trauma center. On arrival Wayne, of Indiana, was diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage and an associated skull fracture and was taken immediately to the OR for surgery. He also was treated for multiple injuries and fractures to his chest, shoulder and spine. After a two-week stay at Forbes, Wayne was discharged and returned home to begin the next phase of his recovery. “I don’t recollect anything from the accident. My friends and family have told me to go back and visit the site to see if I can regain some of my memory and recall what happened, but I don’t want to remember that event ever again,” Wayne said.

Abby and John Thornbury

Abby and her dad, John Thornbury, are very thankful for the exemplary care they received from LifeFlight crews, surgeons at Allegheny General Hospital, and other emergency responders. It was a chilly afternoon when Abby and John, of Slippery Rock, were traveling west on Route 422 in Kittanning Township. A loaded tri-axle truck heading in the opposite direction lost control and smashed into the

truck Abby was driving.“ I looked at Abby and she was holding my hand, looking at me and crying. This moment gave me some comfort.  We had both survived and Abby was holding my hand,” John said. EMS crews with Kittanning Hose Company #6 called for LifeFlight and continued to care for Abby and John. Crews from LifeFlight 3 and 4 transported them separately to Allegheny General Hospital, shortening a one hour drive to a 20 minute flight.  John broke both of his legs in addition to chest and abdominal injuries and Abby suffered fractures in her leg, arm and back, in addition to a concussion. Abby fully healed seven months after the crash. John still goes to physical therapy and must now walk with a cane. “I was told if I was younger and smaller, I would heal better but that hasn’t stopped me from doing any of my normal everyday activities,” John said.