December 9, 2021 is a special day for Charlie Pearman. That evening, the Bristol resident got his wish answered: to meet and say a personal “thank you” to the men he says are the reason he’s alive today.
“I wanted to express my deepest appreciation for what they did,” says Pearman, who met Flight Paramedic Brian Hutchinson and Flight Nurse Jamey Thompson of Highlands 1 at the medical flight crew’s company holiday party.
Highlands 1, an Emergency Air Rescue & Transport (HEART) in Elizabethton, Tennessee, is one of four bases belonging to Med-Trans, a member of Global Medical Response’s (GMR) family of solutions. On September 8, 2021, the medical helicopter responded to an emergency call from Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport, where Pearman was being treated for a flesh wound.
“I was in the hospital because of a cut I suffered in late August at my lumber job. I had no idea that I would eventually experience another medical condition that would require even more intervention,” says Pearman. That other “medical condition” would be a saddle pulmonary embolism or a large blood clot that gets lodged where the main pulmonary artery branches off into each lung. “I know I passed out, so I don’t remember much when the medical flight crew came in my hospital room. What I do remember is hearing someone say I was going in the back of the helicopter, and then, someone putting an oxygen mask on me,” says Pearman.
Hutchinson also recalls the day he and Thompson transported Pearman. “It was clear that he [Pearman] was hypoxic and in desperate need of oxygen; he had no idea what was going on,” he says. Thompson agrees, saying “we knew we had to quickly get him to another hospital that had the resources and medical expertise to treat his condition.”
Pearman, a member of GMR’s AirMedCare Network’s alliance of affiliated helicopter and airplane air ambulances, was immediately transported by Hutchinson and Thompson to Johnson City Medical Center, where he underwent life-saving surgery.
“I’m so grateful to be a member of the AirMed Care Network. I was so appreciative of the level of care it provided me. It was a comfort to know they had my back.” As a member of the AirMedCare Network, Pearman has financial peace of mind knowing that his out-of-pocket expenses are covered.
Today, the 57-year old lumber distributer is recovering well. “I’ve made tremendous progress in my rehabilitation,” says Pearman. “In fact, when I met [Hutchinson and Thompson] at their Christmas party, I remember Hutchinson say, ‘you look a heck of a lot better than the last time I saw you,’” he jokingly recalls.
Hutchinson remembers that comment, too. “I was telling the truth,” he says with a chuckle. “I was also glad to see that he was getting better.”
And while Hutchinson and Thompson say they’re happy to see patients like Pearman, especially as they work towards a full recovery, the air medical crew members also say it’s an honor to serve their community. “This line of work is not based on a one-person mentality. We work as a team. We’re not in it to get individual recognition. We’re in it to save lives with the expertise, skill and knowledge that each team member possesses. We know the bigger picture,” says Hutchinson.
But for Pearman, that “bigger picture” was sized up in the two small words of “thank you” that he says, could never fully convey the depth of gratitude he has for the two men he will always remember. After all, meeting them was a sincere wish for him that finally came true one December night.