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Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - North Flight Air Celebrates 25 Years of EMS Service


North Flight Air Celebrates 25 Years of EMS Service
Mancelona businessman still thankful for his helicopter ride in 1990
 
Burt Moeke II has a good business, great marriage, three children – and a day that nearly took all that away.

A partner in a Mancelona timber management group, Moeke was working with the company founder, his dad, on Thursday, August 9, 1990, in a new saw mill they had just started operating. As a 58-inch circular saw with a 3/8-inch thick blade sliced logs into lumber, an accident occurred. He fell into the saw.
 
“I nearly severed my arm at the shoulder area. It cut one of my subclavian veins,” he said.
 
Understanding time was of the essence as his son bled, his father helped him walk to his pickup and sped toward Mancelona encouraging his son to stay awake. Blood pooled in the cab. They arrived at the doctor’s office. It was closed. His dad headed for the ambulance barn and turned into its parking lot just as the ambulance crew was returning from a call. They put a pair of MAST trousers on him to help prevent shock.
 
“They were able to stabilize me and called North Flight right away because I was almost bled out,” Moeke recalled. He was still conscious.
 
North Flight Paramedic John Mull was one of the crew as the North Flight AStar350B2 helicopter flew toward the village landing zone, set up at the high school. Through radio contact with the ground crew, he and Flight Nurse Palmer Greene knew that despite all the technology they carried, the most important part of their job would be to get him loaded as safely and quickly as possible for a fast ride to a Munson Medical Center operating room.
 
“There are a few things that you have to get done. He needed an IV and some fluids,” Mull said. “But what Burt really needed was speed, he needed to go 150 mph to an emergency room.”
 
Without the helicopter’s speed, Mull said Moeke would have bled out before he reached the hospital. It took the helicopter 12 to 14 minutes to cover the nearly 40 miles that would have taken a ground ambulance about 50 minutes to travel. The North Flight crew alerted the Munson Medical Center trauma team who were on standby waiting for Moeke as he was wheeled into the emergency room. Still conscious, Moeke said he recalled a nurse recognizing who he was. That nurse was Carol Sharp, RN, an emergency room nurse then, and now manager of North Flight Air. Her family lived in the same region.
 
“They put 27 units of blood in me, my wife said it was phenomenal,” Moeke said. “They were just pumping in everything they could to keep me going.”

Moeke was operated on, had his veins and arm put back together, and spent 21 days in the hospital, and a short time in rehab. He went back to work after getting out of the hospital.
 
“I still have good use of my arm,” he said. “I have a great wife, three children, two born after the accident. I’m a believer in God and God was working through the doctors, North Flight, the Mancelona EMS crew, and my dad.”
 
Mull agrees that all the components necessary to save Moeke’s life came together that day. The weather allowed the helicopter to fly, the Mancelona EMS crew and first responders were well trained in preparing a landing zone, the trauma team was able to be alerted to the patient’s needs.
 
“It wasn’t any one person or one thing, it was the whole process,” Mull said. “Everything came together. It was the system that saved him.”
 
Moeke jokes now that he was just trying to avoid an anniversary dinner with his in-laws.
 
“I appreciate everything that was done for me. They all knew exactly what to do to keep me from dying,” he said. “It was a God thing. I made a mistake, but even the mistake turned to good.”