Patient says air ambulance saved her life - twice

Brianna Hock said she will always be thankful for the air ambulance service. The 22-year-old has been airlifted, twice. (KRCG 13)

In a traumatic injury, every minute counts--- especially when a nearby hospital may not be so nearby.

In rural areas in Missouri and hard to get to places, a helicopter offers the speed an ambulance can't.

Brianna Bock said she will always be thankful for the air ambulance service. The 22-year-old has been airlifted, twice.

At 15, a flight crew flew her from a serious four-wheeler accident by the water with a friend.

"And it rolled over on us," Bock said. "She was not hurt at all and it was on my legs and I was stuck in the water so I actually had frostbite on my toes."

That was just her first helicopter experience.

Last May, Bock, her sister and two cousins just left a gas station in Belle where authorities said a drunk driver hit them.

"It was on Mother's Day, she had her kids with her, and was twice over the legal limit," Hock said.

It was a day she said changed her life.

"I got ejected and the car rolled right over me."

She suffered serious brain injuries and was transported by air to Columbia.

"I give them respect because putting an IV in in a shaking helicopter is really hard, but she did it on the first try," she said.

In a traumatic injury like Bock's, every minute counts.

But what does a helicopter transport offer that an ambulance can't?

While it wasn't the same company that flew her, the MU Healthcare Staff for Life crew took KRCG 13's Elizabeth Hoffman on board to find out.

Chief Flight Nurse Joan Drake has been flying since 1983. "Nursing offers rewards every day, but for me, this is my niche," she said.

And if an injury is serious enough, that niche takes over.

"We can perform an ultrasound to determine whether their heart is still beating or not. Sometimes, you may not feel a pulse but the heart may still be beating and we can use the ultrasound to determine that," Drake added.

She said time is crucial. "We might be able to fly to a location and pick up that patient in five minutes but it could be an hour by ground."

Looking back, Bock said she has a lot to be thankful for.

"It definitely saved my life because if they wouldn't have done the helicopter, I would have either not made it, or been way more brain damaged."

Nearly a year later, she still sees a doctor for her injuries, but for someone who's been airlifted twice, that's nothing.

"I feel better. I can walk. I got pretty lucky. Like I didn't get lucky, but I did because it could have been a lot worse."

Depending on the distance, seriousness and patient's insurance coverage, the cost of an air ambulance transfer varies.

To clarify, Bock was not flown by University Healthcare Staff for Life flight crew, but she was taken to University Hospital.

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