Patient Stories

Devastating head-on collision

Nellie was ready to hit the road after sending a video message to her friends, letting them know that she and her sister were on their way from Amboy to Winlock, Washington, for a Thanksgiving celebration with family. Unfortunately, while en route to the family gathering, Nellie’s life changed forever.

The sisters were involved in a high-speed collision with a tree shortly after departing. “We pulled up and I immediately went over to the car. She was completely unresponsive and hardly breathing,” said Brandon Miller, a paramedic with North Country EMS who responded to the 911 call. Brandon knew Nellie would need rapid transport and advanced care. His immediate thought was: “Launch the helicopter.” First responders worked to stabilize Nellie’s respiratory status until Life Flight Network arrived. Life Flight Network was able to transport her to definitive care at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, in under 12 minutes. In flight, the crew placed Nellie on a ventilator and administered much-needed blood products. Nellie’s status was critical. She coded in the operating room but was successfully resuscitated.

Nellie’s injuries were extensive. All ribs on her right side were broken resulting in a collapsed lung. She had an intracranial hemorrhage, also known as a brain bleed. She also had sacral and coccyx fractures and liver, spleen, and kidney lacerations. “If Life Flight Network hadn’t been there, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Nellie’s father. “They played a pivotal role in my daughter’s survival.”

This past winter, mere months after the accident, Nellie was back on her snowboard at Mt. Hood, much to her mother’s chagrin. “The first time I went snowboarding after my accident I got to the mountain and Life Flight Network was there…it was fun for me, but not my mom.”

Nellie and her family credit her survival to the quick actions of the first responders and the Life Flight Network crew. Six months post-accident, Nellie visited our LF 7 Kelso base and the crew that saved her life. Life Flight Network flight paramedic, Jason, presented her with his flight wings as a reminder of everything she has overcome. Nellie now has them hanging on the rear-view mirror of her car. At just 16 years old, she is on the fast track to becoming a flight nurse, already holding her CNA license, and she has enrolled in AP classes for early college credit.

“After my accident, I visited with some of the first responders who said, ‘If Life Flight Network hadn’t been there, there’s no way you would be here today.’ It means a lot, what you guys do and what you did that day. I am thankful to everyone involved.”


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