North Bend Eagle


NBVFD members honored
North Bend volunteer firemen Don Kruger, Kevin Dubbs, Parry Siebenaler, Randy Eckmann, Darcie Jones and Brian Dubbs pose with Melissa Killingsworth, center. The North Benders helped saved Killingsworth's life after a 2007accident.

First responders honored for '07 rescue

published 11/26/08

• Members of the North Bend Fire Department began the process that saved Melissa Killingsworth’s life after an Oct. 2007 wreck.

LINCOLN — North Bend Rural Fire District first responders Brian Dubbs, Kevin Dubbs, Randy Eckmann, Darcie Jones, Don Kruger and Parry Siebenaler were honored for their life-saving response to a rollover SUV crash involving 26-year-old Melissa Killingsworth on Oct. 28, 2007.

The North Benders were recognized at the Nov. 14 Tribute to Trauma Champions. The first annual event recognized the medical expertise, tireless dedication and teamwork required among the many healthcare specialties to successfully care for a single trauma patient. From EMS first responders to trauma care professionals at the Trauma Center to rehabilitation staff members and those who help patients return home, a coordinated system of care is vital to treat the region’s most critically injured patients.

At the event, 66 professionals from dispatchers to first responders to emergency department staff to physicians, nurses and rehabilitation professionals received the Trauma Champion award for their roles in the rescue and recovery of trauma survivor Melissa Killingsworth and another trauma survivor. Killingsworth and her family attended the event to personally thank the dozens of healthcare providers responsible for saving her life.

Thirty-five people received Trauma Champion awards for their role in the rescue and recovery of Killingsworth, from Fremont, who was nearly killed when she was thrown 30 feet from the crash site after her SUV rolled several times.

Dave Reznicek, Steve Arneal and Jim Robinson discovered the accident scene. At first they did not notice Killingsworth’s body, but once they saw her, the emergency call was made.

The 911 call and the immediate response of the North Bend volunteer EMS squad set in motion the Trauma System that would save her life.

First responders found Killingsworth in a field about six miles northwest of North Bend, unconscious and minimally responsive. Following their training and protocol, the responders immediately assessed the situation and started life-saving emergency medical procedures. Due to the severity of the injuries and the urgent need for advanced medical care the team called Bryan LGH StarCare air ambulance services, which immediately alerted the American College of Surgeons Verified BryanLGH Trauma Center. The trauma team was ready and waiting when Killingsworth arrived. Her “Golden Hour” was ticking away.

John Fallick, trauma team leader, and his team quickly went to work. A CAT scan revealed extensive injuries – her brain was bleeding, her spleen was shattered, her lung was severely injured and her bladder was ruptured.

She was immediately taken for emergency surgery. In the days that followed, increased bleeding in her brain and respiratory problems posed urgent threats to her life. Specialists including trauma orthopedic surgeon David Samani, trauma/critical care surgeon Reginald Burton, neurosurgeon Christopher Kent, neurosurgeon Daniel Tomes, pulmonologist Timothy Lieske and countless medical center staff members attended to Killingsworth. Each morning a multidisciplinary team including the ICU nurses, physicians, pharmacist, respiratory therapist, dietitian, social worker, trauma nurse coordinator and chaplain reviewed her condition and plan of care.

By day 11, the miracle Melissa’s parents had been waiting for occurred. She was alert and following commands. She had improved enough to leave acute care at the Trauma Center and was admitted to the inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. With the help of an interdisciplinary team of therapists, nurses and other health professionals, Killingsworth progressed rapidly during her stay at the BryanLGH Rehabilitation Unit. She returned home just 43 days after her life-threatening crash. Two weeks later, she returned to the BryanLGH Trauma Outpatient Clinic for a follow-up appointment to monitor her progress.

Killingsworth said she enjoyed the chance to meet and thank the people who saved her life at the Tribute to Trauma Champions.

“The evening was wonderful,” she said. “I am so grateful for the chance to say thank you to all of the healthcare workers that saved my life.”

Her father, Kevin Killingsworth, also expressed his appreciation for the North Bend responders and everyone involved in his daughter’s rescue and treatment.

“From start to finish everybody did their part and went above and beyond to help Melissa and to make us feel comfortable,” Kevin Killingsworth said. “Without people like that, who know how to provide this kind of care, this world would be a lot worse off.”

Reginald Burton, the director of trauma and surgical critical care at the BryanLGH Trauma Center, said Melissa Killingsworth is just one example of many Nebraskans who have been saved by emergency personel.

“This level of care does not happen without a high level of teamwork, dedication and expertise,” Burton said. “It is our honor to provide this care to our citizens. Our passion to always learn and seek new and innovative ways to improve care has an immeasurable impact on our region’s most critically injured patients and their families.”

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