Fla. air ambulance grants dying boy's wish

Boy diagnosed with a blood cancer that will kill him, transported safely and comfortably via air ambulance

PR Newswire

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — REVA Air Ambulance announced this week that it stands poised to achieve all of its 18-month post-merger goals, benchmarks measured by miles flown, fleet expansions, an added base of operations, staff training hours, safety records, and other key  calculations.  But none of these measures tells more about REVA's post-merger mission than the day it flew one boy home.

Jorgen B. was an 11-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with large-cell lymphoma, a blood cancer that was not responding to treatment.  With Jorgen's time running out, the boy and his father traveled from their home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, toCincinnati, Ohio, for a final visit with Jorgen's favorite aunt in January. When it came time to say their last good-byes, they called REVA Air Ambulance to manage their 4,100-mile journey back home.

Because of Jorgen's condition, the 10-hour flight would require constant medical management, and, as it turned out, much more.  "When we got the call for Jorgen's over-seas medical flight, REVA was fully prepared for all the concerns the family and his physicians needed to have addressed," said Lesa Armstrong, REVA's Program Director. "It's what we do."   

What they had not expected was an over-night weather delay in eastern Canada.  "But our time-out for weather in Goose Bay, Labrador, went as smoothly as if it had been a planned part of the itinerary," Armstrong said.

Every mile of REVA's medical flight track record came to bear on this particular flight, said Chief Flight Paramedic Andre duCille, who was part of the Learjet 35 medical team monitoring the boy.  "We were naturally concerned with his respiratory status, cardiac status, and his fluids on the long flight," duCille said. "We had a complete medical status report from Jorgen's doctors in Amsterdam and Cincinnati and remained in contact with the hospital medical team."

"Our overnight weather delay meant we had to get an ambulance to the hospital, brief the ground medical team on Jorgen's needs, making sure he and his dad would be in good hands – tasks that we usually accomplish before taking off, but now had to be done from the air, during the flight," duCille said.

REVA's  pilot in command, Raymond Keith and copilot Walter Henn were both key to the faultless communication and smooth liaison as the team prepared to spend the night in cold, snowy Labrador.

"Jorgen loves tomato juice -- not something you find in every vending machine.  So, once we settled in at the hospital, I took off on a mission – successfully – to find tomato juice for him," duCille said.  And, on a quick trip to a nearby Walmart to pick up a few items for the night, one of the REVA medical flight team spontaneously purchased a football for Jorgen.  "You should have seen his face light up when we gave it to him in the hospital.  He absolutely loved it," duCille said.

The weather advisory lifted the next morning and REVA's air ambulance medical transportation team resumed Jorgen's journey home. Although it had been a long flight, including a scheduled refueling in Keflevik, Iceland, for the final leg of the flight toAmsterdam, duCille said that at no time did Jorgen or his father feel constrained or uncomfortable. REVA's seven dedicated medical jets include every passenger comfort in a roomy interior: memory foam bedding, cabin climate controls, in-flight snacks and meals.

"Jorgen's cancer pain was a major concern for all of us on the flight, which was managed by our flight team," duCille said. "He is a great kid – 95 pounds of spirit. I'm glad we were there for him and his family."

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