Attending the Air Medical Transport Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in a few weeks? Make sure you add the Tuesday 11 am general session to your schedule. It’s sponsored by the MedEvac Foundation International. It will also be where the MedEvac Foundation and the Kevin and Sandra Hutton Foundation will be presenting the Patient of the Year award to Paige Winter. The award is generously sponsored by the Kevin and Sandra Hutton Foundation. Paige has a very compelling story.
Paige was swimming in the ocean with her family in early June when she was attacked by a shark. Paige’s father, a firefighter, came to her rescue, fighting off the shark and bringing her to shore, where the Atlantic Beach Fire Department summoned Vidant EastCare to bring her to Vidant Medical Center, the only level 1 trauma center in eastern NC. The flight crew initially did not think she could be badly hurt, because of how calm she remained. While enroute from the scene she received pain medication and blood products. On arrival at Vidant Medical Center she was taken to surgery, the first of many that were required to amputate her badly injured leg and begin to repair her hands. Throughout this ordeal Paige has remained upbeat, telling Good Morning America,
“I was aware from the beginning, nothing’s gonna be the same ever again. Like, I’m still Paigey. Just a little different. I got some pieces of the puzzle missing. But it’s OK. … I’d rather have to go through this tough journey than, like, not being able to use my hands. Not being able to, like, walk.”
Paige is a unique individual, and her courage and selflessness was exemplified by one of her early comments to the flight paramedic: “I’m just glad it wasn’t my sister.” We see so many patients who are angry, intoxicated, or unconscious, and Paige provided a breath of fresh air, reminding us all of why we do this work. Her personality and resilience in the face of such devastating injuries attracted international attention, including an interview on ABC News’ NightLine program.