Kirsten opened her eyes and said to herself, "I don't have ceiling tiles in my bedroom. This can't be good."
Kirsten Skeldon and her family rented out a cabin for a weekend trip with friends. On Saturday, February 6th, 2010, they took their two-person snow tube to a hill in the Summit area of Allegany State Park that they had used before. Kirsten and one of her sons, Kohl, were on their way down the hill with Kohl facing forward and Kirsten facing backward when they veered toward a patch of trees.
Kohl jumped off the tube, but Kirsten didn't make it off in time. She hit the first tree back-first and hit her head as well. She was airborne and parallel with the ground when she hit the second tree. After that, she spun through a patch of saplings. Kirsten recalls nothing after her son fell off the tube. The next thing she remembers is waking up at Erie County Medical Center, seeing the ceiling tiles in her hospital room and realizing that she is not in her bed at home.
Her husband Alan vividly remembers what his wife cannot. After the accident, they scrambled down the hill, fearing the worst. But, Kirsten had a guardian angel that day. Even though they could not get a cell phone signal, one of her friends used their car's OnStar to request help and to pinpoint their location. A nurse who happened to be on the same hill that day initiated care and showed Alan how to manually stabilize Kirsten's head and neck. An EMS snowmobile rescue team training in the area that day arrived on-scene within minutes. Recognizing the severity of her injuries and the need to get her to a trauma center within the "Golden Hour" after her accident, Mercy Flight was requested to the scene.
Mercy Flight Pilot - Ed McDonnell, Medic - Skip Yuhnke and Nurse - Brenda Meyer remember landing at the scene that day. Their lifesaving transport of Kirsten to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo that would have taken at least an hour and a half in an ambulance took less than 30 minutes by helicopter.
Kirsten ended up fracturing four ribs, two vertebrae in her back and broke her right arm. She also compressed two more vertebrae, had a severe gash in her head that required numerous staples and suffered a concussion. She spent three weeks at ECMC and another three months in a back brace.
Today, other than a little less range of motion, Kirsten describes her life as almost back to normal. Her husband credits Mercy Flight and the care she received at the scene with saving her life.
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