Samuel is a 12 year old boy that has just this past year joined a Boy Scout troop. He has been in the Boy Scouts for a total of four years, actively participating in Cub Scouts prior to this year. This is what Samuel told us as he smiled proudly and announced his scout rank. He is a very polite young man with obvious excitement in his eyes, anticipating today’s adventure. I asked him, “Do you like to be called Samuel or Sam?” and with a quick and confident reply “You can call me either, it doesn’t matter to me”.
Sam was attending his first big scout event since his induction into his new Boy Scout troop: the winter ski trip in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is a time when all the boy scouts from the area travel for a day of skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. It amazes me, as I hear the story of how a tragic accident changed the course of this day, how God’s Love and protection is so evidently apparent in this family’s life.
Though the exact details of this incident are difficult to reconstruct, according to his mother, Sam was strangled when his scarf became tangled in a ski tow rope. She tells us that emergency responders were able to revive Samuel and rush him to Bronson Methodist Hospital where he has been recovering from a brain injury that resulted from lack of oxygen for a period of several minutes.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)
Sam’s family found themselves far from home trying to manage his medical care while also caring for his siblings in Indiana. We were contacted soon after the accident and asked if Grace on Wings could fly Sam to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis where his recovery could be managed by a pediatric specialty rehabilitation team closer to his parents and younger siblings. Lisa was quickly able to orchestrate the transport and secure a volunteer medical crew to bring Sam home! Despite all of her efforts however, the same snow and ice that drew crowds to the ski resort also drastically affected flight conditions at the nearby airports in Michigan.
Finally, after a couple of February snows, the weather allowed us a small window of time to fly into Kalamazoo safely.
We arrived to find Sam, with his mother at his bedside, anxiously awaiting our arrival. His recovery had progressed tremendously since his accident. Sam still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but you would never guess that that was a concern for him based upon the smile on his face. The strength and positive energy in this young man radiated throughout the room. As we carefully moved and secured Sam to the ambulance cot, he asked many questions about the aircraft. We informed him that, “We will be flying to Riley today in “Abe”.
When we arrived at the airport, Sam’s eyes lit up. We secured him in the aircraft and applied the headset that not only provides hearing protection, but also allows us to communicate with him during the flight. His mother was seated in a seat facing her son. We taxied off and turned onto the runway. It was exciting to watch Sam’s face as Abe sped down the runway and took to the air.
During the flight, we listened as his mother shared their experience with us. As we do with all flights, we gave Sam a Bible and a cross with a special message, the mission number, and the names of the flight crew. Midway through the flight, we also had an additional surprise for Sam. We were able to acquire some scout camp patches for him to add to his patch collection. The flight went smoothly and we avoided the impending weather approaching Kalamazoo and Indianapolis. After a terrific landing, we heard over our headsets an exciting “That was Awesome!” from Sam.
As with most hospitals, the halls are always very busy with staff scurrying around and many activities going on. Today, Riley Hospital was no different. Once we had Sam in his new room, the flight crew gathered around his bed to pray as is our custom. As we began to praise God for the miracle of Sam’s recovery and the protection he provided us during this transport, I noticed all of the noise and commotion in the busy hallways seemed to pause. I can’t help but believe that everyone was offering this moment of praise and thanks to our heavenly Father.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
What a blessing it has been to serve Sam and his family with Hal, Mike, and Lisa!
Chris Kachur, EMT-P