Diana M is a 51 years old from Columbus IN. She was visiting her brother in Dublin GA and was traveling out on Tybee Island when an 18 year old had a seizure at the wheel and crossed into her lane hitting her head on. Fortunately she was saved by God and had her seatbelt and airbag to help. Her 25 year old passenger died at the scene and she was taken to a local trauma hospital in Savannah. She suffered multiple fractures of all her extremities and ribs but all her vital organs, spine and head were undamaged.
She stayed in the hospital for surgery after surgery and finally she was stable enough to travel home after 3 weeks. She had splints on both her arms and legs and lots of internal hardware and could only sit up for few minutes in a wheelchair. Hospital case manager called us to go and bring her back home to her daughter’s house.
We flew on a beautiful clear day in Indiana but as we neared our destination airport of Savannah, the storm clouds were building. We circled the airport and frustratingly could see the nearby military airport strip, but our next-door landing strip was covered by an ugly cloud system. Hal made the decision after circling that we would fly South to a nearby airport 25 air miles to safely wait out the storm. It was our first weather diversion! I always knew it was a possibility but after 6 1/2 years flying, the forecasting was usually right on or God parted the clouds for us.
We got out at Wright Army Airfield (which had opened their place to civilian aircraft 5 years ago) and the Southern hospitality was definitely there to greet us! We were offered rocking chairs and snacks and the all important computer and wifi access to notify all involved and let them know we were safe and checking the weather. I looked out at our aircraft Nellie and Hal was standing next to her praying with a guy he’d just met! I found out he was the director of the airport and his name was Charlie. He said he was suffering through colon cancer treatment and had asked God for a sign everything was OK and he gets to his (rather deserted) airport, he sees an aircraft with a huge red cross on it and praises God!
Hal came in and sat down in the pilot room and as he unconsciously does-began to sigh and “auggh” loud enough that we the crew could hear it across the room as he monitored the weather. It was building right over Savannah! We watched it build and rumble through the big airport windows.
I had to make the call to our patient that we might not make it in that day-it was one of the hardest calls I’ve made. Storms and possible tornados where forecasted the next day. We silently all prayed for the weather to give us a way in.
I checked to see how reasonable it would be to send her by ground to where we were but it would have been a long bumpy hour ride which would have been torture for someone with all those injuries to endure-plus the weather was building over us and we weren’t sure if we could get out. After two hours, an area cleared just over Savannah-Hal inadvertently mentioned that pilots call it “a sucker’s hole” and evaluated it closely. Our window was not very big so I asked him if the patient was waiting for us under medic’s care at the airport-would we be able to try to get in. Hal and I have learned that we absolutely have our own separate responsibilities on missions-mine is medical (with Dr Jim) and his is aviation and he always gets the last call to go or not go. I knew she was medically stable to do it and he agreed to “go!” God totally blessed us and though the 5 minute scheduled flight to get into Savannah was 20min of navigating weather, we touched down safely in the rain.
We waited anxiously in the airport waiting room and as an ambulance pulled up to the gate, another pilot said, “finally my patient is here.”
My heart sank as I watched the rain build and I told that pilot that we were also expecting a patient from an ambulance. I went out front and ran through the rain to check and as I opened the back door, I heard a small voice, “is that Tami from Grace on Wings?”
I was so happy it was Diana and she was doing well! She was only 100lbs so we slid her onto our cot and loaded her into Nellie easily.
She did well in flight with pain meds and supplemental oxygen and we arrived to Columbus airport with an awaiting donated ambulance from Transcare. A short ride later we were able to tuck her into bed-finally home! We carefully hugged her (I nicknamed her China doll) and prayed before we left. I called her today and she is doing great at home-and promised she would drink lots of bone healing milk.
Thanks so much to my God-gifted husband Hal for keeping us safe, for the Lord for moving the weather for us, for our flight followers, and for our awesome medical team of Todd and David. Thanks to Southside EMS and Transcare for donating the ground ambulances and helping to give this broken child of God an amazing gift-being home near her loved ones and seeing Christ’s love through us.
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