It’s not often an Air Evac Lifeteam crew has the opportunity to meet a patient and witness his or her recovery. So when San Marcos, Texas, resident Megan d’Andrea walked into the La Grange, Texas, Air Evac base, it was cause for celebration.
Megan, a PE teacher at Harmony School of Innovation in Austin, was traveling along I-10 when she came up on a construction zone. The speed, she said, dropped from 75 to 50 miles per hour, and traffic merged quickly. Megan hit the back of a flatbed 18-wheeler. The driver saw her and let go of the brake, moving forward so Megan’s car would not go under the semi-truck.
Megan was trapped in her car for 30 minutes, and the Air Evac crew of pilot Jose Hernandez, flight nurse Keith Hughart and flight paramedic Joe Percer landed on the interstate.
“We helped out with the extrication,” Keith said. “Megan suffered from many life-threatening injuries: a head laceration, lacerated spleen and liver, a lacerated kidney, a nearly amputated right foot and a compound fracture of her right arm.”
Keith said four agencies were on the ground, working together to try and save Megan’s life.
“Our EMS partners and first responders are some of the most dedicated people on earth,” he said. “Weimer Fire Department was there, along with Colorado County EMS and the Texas State Troopers. Everyone played a role in saving Megan’s life. For a bunch of people who never met each other before that day, we worked like we were one team.”
The Air Evac crew administered an experimental drug known as TXA, which slowed the bleeding and bought Megan some time. Trauma patients who reach a higher level of healthcare within the “golden hour” are more likely to survive. Megan was flown to the University Medical Center at Brackenridge in Austin, where she went straight into surgery. The skilled surgeons worked to stop the internal bleeding and put the young teacher back together.
“I was in the hospital for 23 days, Megan said. “I wasn’t supposed to bear weight until September 2015, but I started walking in August.”
In September 2015, Megan visited her uncle, recovering from gall bladder surgery at St. Mark’s Medical Center in La Grange. Knowing the crew that flew her to Austin was from LaGrange, Megan visited the base after seeing the aircraft land.
“They acted so fast, and are a big part of saving my life,” she said.
Meeting Megan was emotional for all three crew members.
“Most of the time we never get updates on the patients we fly beyond the first day or two,” Joe Percer said. “When we called the hospital that afternoon for an update, they did not know if Megan was going to make it. To have it come full circle, and to know how well she is doing…it was a great moment for all of us.”