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Survivor Story

Davey and Ella Lubin

Why an Alaskan family has a whole new appreciation for Airlift Northwest and UW Medicine.

AIrlift Northwest: Lubin-60

ELLA: My riding instructor and I were planning to canter up the hill where I live in Sitka, Alaska. I'd done this before on the same horse, but I was still kind of excited. When we started going, my horse freaked – which was unusual because it's an older horse that doesn't spook very easily. It started to canter​ really fast without even going into a trot first, and right away, I got really scared. I couldn't control it. I was pulling back on the reins and screaming its name, but nothing worked. It was running pretty close to a full gallop as it topped the hill, and I was really, really scared by then.

What went through my mind was that my hill joined the road – it's not a very busy road, but still, the thought of being on the road was really, really scary. As we neared that main road, the horse turned the corner, and it was going so fast its legs flipped out from under it. I blacked out as soon as I hit the ground. ​

When I woke up, I was sprawled out in the middle of the road. Everything was blurry, and I kind of felt like I'd banged my teeth on something really hard. I crawled to the sidewalk, and my riding instructor came and told me, "It's going to be ok; it's going to be ok." By then, there was a lot of blood coming from my nose, so I was pretty frightened. Everything hurt because I scraped my legs up, too. I was in shock, so I didn't really know what was going on. My riding instructor called my parents, and they came and drove me to the hospital.

AIrlift Northwest: Lubin-91

DAVEY: My poor girl – she must have thrown up a dozen times. I used to be an EMT-3 so I know a little bit, and I knew more than I wished I'd known. A CT scan showed that Ella had some skull fractures, orbital and septum fractures, and she had a little bleed on her brain. The emergency department doctor at our local hospital called in a surgeon for a second opinion, and he said she needed to be flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The cost of an air medical transport flight could've been a financial disaster, but our Airlift Northwest membership saved us from such a fate.

After changing insurance companies last fall, some friends suggested that we should really get air medical transport coverage. A pilot friend of mine recommended Airlift Northwest. I bought a two-year membership for a really affordable price, and I was so thrilled. I'm glad we had it; the difference it made is immeasurable.

My wife, Lisa, and I both got to ride in the plane, and we were very, very thankful. We squeezed in the back seat and watched as the Airlift Northwest flight nurses took care of our 13-year-old girl. Ella's nurses were awesome. They were constantly monitoring her and checking in with her on a regular basis. At one point, they decided Ella needed a second IV. I thought, "Please don't give her any more pain." And the nurse just, you know, slid it right in. They were so professional.

The flight went pretty quickly. I think it took just under two hours to get from Sitka to Boeing Field in Seattle. I always wanted to ride in a Learjet, but not like that. The flight nurses accompanied us to the hospital in the ambulance and handed us off to the nurses and doctors in a nice way so I appreciated that. It was helpful to have that continuity.

Seeing all those backboards in the ambulance bay made me realize that for years I'd been hearing about Harborview Medical Center. Oh, you know, they're on the way to Harborview for trauma, or they had to be medevaced. It was a little bit of a mystery in my mind but not anymore. I'm just so thankful for all the professionals through the whole course of the accident and recovery. I have a whole new appreciation for Airlift Northwest and UW Medicine, and I'm forever grateful.

When we got to Harborview Medical Center, it was just like watching a television show about Saturday night in a big city trauma center. But they just whisked us in and were so kind. A dozen professionals descended on Ella, and Lisa and I were relieved to see that they were taking such good care of her. It was as positive an experience as it could possibly be.​

Today, Ella is doing fine – easing back into her favorite activities. And I feel great knowing that if there's ever another medical emergency, Airlift Northwest will be there for us.