“There has been an accident.”
Those dreaded words were spoken to Draedon Faubert’s parents on a phone call in the middle of the night.
Hours earlier, Draedon had celebrated his 16th birthday with friends and family in a drive-by parade, as was the norm in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Later that night, he planned on attending a small gathering at a nearby farm.
It was supposed to be a fun, celebratory, and safe evening.
“We thought we had everything in place for safety protocols and things like that,” said Chris Faubert, Draedon’s dad.
However, Draedon and two friends were in a motor vehicle crash. The vehicle rolled and Draedon was ejected, thrown over railroad tracks, and down an embankment.
When first responders arrived on the scene, it took hours to locate him, because he had been thrown so far from the vehicle. When they finally did, Draedon was fighting for his life and needed urgent critical care, so they requested STARS. He had sustained multiple critical injuries to his brain, collapsed lungs, broken femurs, and several lacerated organs.
The STARS medical crew began the critical care he needed en route to the hospital and coordinated with the receiving centre to ensure the surgical team was prepared and informed about the incoming patient. The equipment on board the helicopter, coupled with the expertise of the crew, meant he was able to get to the hospital and into surgery.
“We were told the STARS medical crew had to use everything they had to get him there alive,” said Stacey Faubert, Draedon’s mom. “He probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
After undergoing emergency surgery on his broken femurs, Draedon was moved to a children’s hospital. Because of the global pandemic and subsequent restrictions regarding distancing and a push to keep the virus from spreading, only one person was allowed to be with him in the intensive care unit.
This was an obstacle they were emotionally unprepared for, like many families who faced similar restrictions during the pandemic.
“They let my husband in for the first 24 hours, because Draedon was so critical. His lungs kept collapsing,” said Stacey. “Once the ventilator was doing its job and it was breathing for him, they told us that we had to decide: one parent stayed, and one had to go.”
For Chris, the choice was obvious. “She needed to be there, as she could radiate her support and love to Draedon better than anyone else could.” He kept a vigil in the hospital parking lot. “I felt it was important for me to be outside where they could see us as well.”
With many visits from friends and family, Chris stood by in the parking lot 12 hours a day, for 44 days.
“It was tough being out there and not being able to support him inside that room,” he said.
Many posters of encouragement were made by loved ones and displayed to Stacey and Draedon in the windows – and Stacey made signs back. “Thankfully, I could look out the window and see my family outside,” she recalled, fighting back tears.
After 40 days, Stacey was allowed brief visits outside to see supporters. Five days later, Chris could briefly visit inside.
Draedon spent 159 days in hospitals, including many days of rehab, to retrain his body to do tasks, such as walking and talking. However, without STARS he may have never even had the chance to recover.
“We went through the whole health-care system: the best brain surgeons, the best nurses, the best doctors. The support that we received through the health-care system was absolutely amazing, but none of that matters if Draedon couldn’t have made it there alive,” said Chris.