Patient Stories

Head-on Collision on a Rural Highway

David Swanson wears a blue Life Flight ballcap. He has a salt-and-pepper beard, a wears burgundy athletic shirt over a medium blue undershirt. A baseball backstop, green grass, and fir tree are behind him.

David, an electrician by trade, was on his way to work one morning when he noticed a vehicle coming directly towards him on a two-lane rural highway. There was nowhere for him to go, and the vehicle collided with him head-on at a high rate of speed.

Boulder Ambulance and Boulder Bull Mountain Volunteer Fire Department were first on scene. The crash was serious, and David was hanging onto life by a thread. The first responders quickly recognized the gravity of the situation and requested Life Flight Network. Upon arrival, the flight crew assisted the responding agencies with extrication and patient care before departing for the hospital. During the quick 12-minute flight to the local trauma center, David was administered two units of blood and received a life-saving needle decompression for a tension pneumothorax.

David underwent treatment at St. James Healthcare in Butte, MT, where he stayed in the ICU for five days. He was later transferred to the University of Utah Health by Life Flight Network for specialty ICU-level trauma care and rehab therapy. David underwent three months of extensive treatment, multiple surgeries, and rehab therapy for his head and neck injuries, fractured legs, fractured arms, and chest injuries.

David is grateful every day for the responders who helped save his life. While he is not 100% back to where he was before the accident, he can again enjoy time with his wife and son, including going on fishing trips and spending time in the mountains. Without the strong team effort of the first responders, Life Flight Network, St. James Healthcare, University of Utah Health, and countless rehabilitation groups, David’s story may have turned out much differently.

“It’s a blessing to know that we have resources like Life Flight Network available in remote locations for advanced care.” — Molly Car, Boulder Ambulance


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