Charlotte McHugh

Portrait of STARS Very Important Patient Charlotte McHugh

One foggy August morning, Charlotte McHugh left the family farm for her nursing job when a one-ton truck barrelled through a stop sign and into the driver’s side of her car.

The collision left her in critical condition, but your support saved her life.

A helicopter carrying Pat Jeffery, a nurse with decades of air rescue experience, and Chad Hegge, a 13-year paramedic and staff educator, was dispatched to the crash site.

“I knew about STARS before my accident,” said McHugh. “But I had no idea of the depth of their experience.”

When the air medical crew met McHugh in an ambulance on scene, her blood pressure was so low it was tough to tell if she had a pulse. Immediately, the crew went to work saving her life. First, they took control of her breathing with a mask device. Next, they placed needles into her chest cavity in case there was a build-up of air. Rather, it indicated her chest was full of blood.
“I later learned that a broken rib had cut into my heart,” said McHugh, who also fractured her pelvis.

When people bleed as much as she was bleeding, veins collapse; Hegge and Jeffery knew time was not on her side. They provided medication for her low blood pressure through a needle drilled into her shoulder bone. They then administered sedation, which required placing a tube in her throat, using a video laryngoscope.

“This is one of the most technical skills we perform,” said Hegge. “One misstep may have severe consequences and that’s why a costly video device is required for the job.”

As she was loaded into the helicopter, McHugh’s blood pressure remained low. Once the aircraft lifted off, the crew administered two units of blood as quickly as possible and McHugh was placed on a mechanical ventilator. While en route to hospital, the crew assessed her using a handheld ultrasound machine, providing critical information about her bleeding, and her heart and lung function.

Because STARS’ Emergency Link Centre had already contacted the hospital, a trauma team was waiting for her when the helicopter landed. Three years later, she visited STARS to say thanks to her crew and allies like you who made her mission possible.

“Before STARS, people died,” said McHugh, a wife and mother of three. “I would not have survived by ground ambulance. Instead, I got to see my daughter graduate this year.”


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