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R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center Honors the Heroism of Maryland's Emergency Service Providers

Monday, April 21, 2008

100 People to Receive "Hero Awards" at the Annual Shock Trauma Gala

April 26 at the Baltimore Convention Center will truly be "A Night for Heroes," when the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center holds its annual gala to recognize the medical expertise and tireless dedication of the Shock Trauma team and Maryland’s emergency medical service providers. At the gala, 100 people will receive "Hero Awards" for their roles in the rescue and recovery of two of Maryland’s most critically injured citizens: a St. Mary’s County teenager hit by a car and a Montgomery County mother injured when her SUV rolled over.  Both patients will attend the gala to thank the dozens of health care providers responsible for saving their lives.
"The patients featured at the Shock Trauma Gala are just two examples of the thousands of Marylanders whose lives were saved last year by these amazing and dedicated professionals. They include dispatchers, firefighters, on-scene EMS personnel, crew members from the Maryland State Police Aviation Command, physicians, nurses, medical technicians and rehabilitation specialists," says Thomas M. Scalea, M.D., physician-in-chief at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, which is part of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Dr. Scalea is also professor of surgery and director of the program in trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

Dr. Scalea adds, "These men and women work around the clock, 365 days a year, and the gala is our opportunity to take the time to thank them and honor their commitment to providing the world’s best trauma care to the people of Maryland."

Forty-four people will receive Hero Awards for the case of Thomas Rudowsky, a 14- year-old from St. Mary’s County who was nearly killed when he was hit by a car while trying to cross a busy intersection on Route 235. St. Mary’s County volunteers arrived on the scene within minutes and found Rudowsky in critical condition. They quickly called for a MedEvac helicopter to fly the teenager to Shock Trauma. Because Rudowsky had a suspected brain injury, the flight paramedic on Trooper 7 had to use a special procedure to put in a breathing tube.

Tests at Shock Trauma revealed that the teenager had multiple injuries, including fractures to his collarbone, arm, spine and pelvis as well as a bruise on his right lung and a laceration on his spleen. But his biggest problem was a brain injury that required immediate surgery to relieve the swelling.  Although the operation went well, several days after surgery Rudowsky still did not recognize his mother, but he was able to follow commands. 

Working with therapists and the rest of the team at Shock Trauma, Rudowsky began to make improvements. Nine days after the incident, he left Shock Trauma for a rehabilitation facility. He is now back in school and running on his school’s track team.

"The patient stories highlighted at the gala exemplify the amazing, lifesaving care that is provided to trauma patients in Maryland because of our network of highly skilled caregivers," says Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We are fortunate to live in a state with such dedicated professionals working in  a well-coordinated system. They serve as a model for how trauma care should be provided everywhere."

The second case to be highlighted at the gala involves a police officer who needed the help of her fellow emergency responders. In May 2007, Alanna Ward was driving on I-270 with her son Bradley when another driver clipped the back of her SUV, causing it to roll over several times. Her son was able to crawl out of a back window, but Ward was trapped underneath.

A fire truck from Hyattstown arrived first at the crash scene. Rescuers could see only Ward’s feet, but they could hear her say, "Get this thing off of me." They called for Maryland State Police Helicopter Trooper 3 to fly Ward to Shock Trauma, but it took 50 minutes to free her from the mangled SUV and her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Montgomery County police sergeant Kenny Holt soon realized that the crash victim was a friend and fellow police officer. He says, "I have been a paramedic since 1979 and a police officer since 1981.  I run calls on fellow officers who are seriously injured as well as citizens who are injured, but it is especially emotionally trying when providing medical care to one of your own." Holt flew in the aircraft with his friend and managed her airway until they landed on the roof of Shock Trauma. 

But when Ward arrived at the hospital, her heart stopped. The trauma team inserted chest tubes and gave her blood. While her pulse returned, her oxygen rate was dangerously low. Tests revealed that Ward had severe damage to her right lung, and surgeons had to remove it. Doctors, nurses and therapists worked hard to help Ward improve, but she had a series of setbacks including acute respiratory distress syndrome and a free-floating blood clot in her leg, which could have been deadly.  She stayed on a ventilator for 75 days and she remained at Shock Trauma for four months after the crash. 

In the months following her discharge, Ward returned to Shock Trauma several times for other issues including bleeding in her brain.  Nearly a year after the crash, she is now at home recovering from her injuries, determined to get her life back to normal.

Funds raised at the gala will benefit patient care services at the Shock Trauma Center and will also support the EMS educational fund and the Maryland Fireman’s Association Scholarship fund.
More than 1,800 people are expected to attend the black tie gala, which will be held from 6:00 pm until midnight on April 26 at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street. Tickets are $300 per person and include cocktails, a seated dinner, live music and dancing. Those interested in purchasing tickets to the gala may call 410-328-6064.

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