The Golden Hour

December 6, 2023

Joshua Fowler doesn’t remember too much of the latter part of 2020. It’s not because he was isolated during the pandemic, but because he was “isolated” in a hospital’s intensive care unit for multiple, life-threatening injuries he suffered from a vehicle crash with a tractor trailer rig.

“It was the morning of May 19, 2020, when I ran my 2006 Chevy Trailblazer into the rear of a semi-trailer going the speed of 75 mph, just outside of Brownfield,” said the Lubbock, Texas resident, who draws a blank after that fateful day.

“I have no clue as to what happened afterwards; the next six weeks of my memory are gone,” he said. “My initial injuries included a traumatic brain injury, broken neck, 13 injured ribs, a punctured lung, broken lumbar, shattered legs, crushed arm and a cracked shoulder, just to name a few.”

However, what Fowler does remember after gaining consciousness is the realization of the seriousness of his wounds and the long road that lay ahead of him for his rehabilitation— a rehabilitation that even now, three years after the accident, is still in progress.

But Fowler isn’t complaining; instead, he says he’s “grateful,” crediting the accident for giving him a renewed understanding of the value of life and what’s really important. He’s also thankful to the EMS first responders who came to his aid in the “Golden Hour,” that short, window of time, immediately following a serious injury, when medical treatment to prevent irreversible internal damage and even death is most effective.

“Kelly and Brandon not only saved me, but they also saved my chances at making a full recovery,” said Fowler. “They made it within the ‘Golden Hour’ and without damaging my spinal cord. It was a tense flight as my death was quite likely, but they got me there. Eight resuscitations and 13 units of blood got me stable, and the reconstruction began afterwards.”

The “Kelly” and “Brandon” Fowler is referring to are AeroCare Flight Nurse Kelly Garrett and Flight Paramedic Brandon Pyron, who provided Fowler with lifesaving, medical intervention on-scene and cared for him as he was flown to the University Medical Center (UMC) in Lubbock.

“His (Fowler’s) condition remained critical enroute to UMC, which was our Level I Trauma Center,” recalled Garrett, who says Brownfield EMS and Fire also helped in responding to Fowler’s accident. “He is an extremely tough individual to have gone through such a tragic event, and to see where he is now, it’s really nothing short of a miracle.” 

Garret’s words are based on a one-on-one interaction with Fowler, who he, along with Pyron, got to meet during a rare patient-EMS crew reunion in mid-October 2023. 

“We were astounded to see how well he progressed since the accident,” said Garrett. “It was truly a humbling experience to meet him and his wife and hear their journey in this recovery process.”

Fowler echoes the sentiment, saying the meeting was also special to him.

“They were the ones I wanted to see,” said Fowler. “They are normal guys; they don’t think of themselves as heroes, but they are to me. It was great to get their perspective of the accident, especially the fact that they also wondered if I was going to make it. And yet – here I am.” A poignant and golden moment for a patient and the crew who helped save him… all in that golden hour.

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Therese Edwards
My thanks go to the First Responders of Palestine, Texas, who saved my life. In January 2023 we were traveling home to Arkansas, staying at a motel, and in the middle of the night I had a serious heart attack, and was almost unable to breathe. They came within minutes of my 89 year-old husband's emergency call, gave me oxygen, and rushed me to the Palestine hospital's IC unit. If they hadn't responded so quickly, I don't think I'd be here today.
They have all my admiration and thanks. Therese Edwards.
2/5/2024 7:39:35 AM

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