Nearly six years ago, Del Harper finished his lunch and headed back to his project of hanging drywall in the garage. A retired Pacific Gas and Electric employee, 65-year-old Harper was accustomed to working at high heights and felt very comfortable atop his six-foot scaffold. That quickly changed when he stepped beyond the length of its support. He tried to catch himself but ended up falling feet first to the concrete floor below.
“When I was falling I knew I didn’t want to fall on another part of my body so I tried to land on my feet,” Harper said.
When Harper’s wife Jane ran out to the garage to see what had happened, his feet were already black up to his ankles.
“Every time I moved I was in extreme pain,” Harper said.
The Imbler paramedics responded to Jane’s call for help. Harper was transported to Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande where it was determined that he required a higher level of orthopedic care. An AirLink flight crew transported him to the nearest trauma facility, St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, ID.
Renee Todd was the nurse on duty that day along with Rick Frost, respiratory therapist, and fixed-wing pilot Jason Buchanan.
“The nurse was just as nice a lady as you would ever want,” Harper said. “And the pilot was a dream to be with. He kept me entertained during the flight.”
Harper spent five days in the hospital with a tibia-fibula plateau fracture of his left leg which was broken in seven places. He underwent surgery and spent the first four weeks home confined to his recliner, unable to apply any weight to his right foot.
Although he can walk now, Harper is reminded daily of his accident years ago because of nerves that were left damaged in his left leg and right foot. Without his flight to the hospital he would have had more muscle damage as well.
“As it was, I lost quite a bit of muscle,” Harper said. “I don’t know how much I would be able to use my leg today if more time had passed. I can’t say enough good things about the crew that took care of me that day.”
Submitted by AirLink Critical Care Transport