In this profession you come across stories that seem too crazy to be true, well tonight is one of those. When a freak accident occurred, the collaboration of rural doctors, Avera Careflight, and the Good Lord, provided a miracle for a Parkston man.
Doug Bormann is the first to tell you, he loves to keep himself busy. The various projects here in his shop and the renovation of the apartment above it are just two examples. But the project that's had the biggest impact on Doug lies across the railroad tracks. In fact, he says standing here is surreal given what happened in this exact spot on August 20th of 2014.
"The worst thing that could've happened that day, happened... And the best thing that day that could've happened, happened." said Bormann.
Doug was doing some dirt work with his tractor outside of this building when the unthinkable occurred.
"I was unloading some dirt out of the scoop and as I was backing up, the tractor just quickly tipped over and it bounced over so hard that it actually went up in the air and bounced a second time." said Bormann.
Doug was pinned beneath the tractor but somehow was able to call 911. Those nearby quickly sprang into action, trying to free Doug from the machine. That's when they noticed the loader lever.
"One of the fireman said we better check and make sure that there's nothing going on before we pull him out and sure enough they found that that's what was in my neck!" said Bormann.
The tractor's hydraulic loader lever had impaled Doug through his neck but somehow missed every major structure. Thankfully emergency crews and volunteers were able to disconnect the lever from the tractor and get Doug over to the Avera St. Benedict Emergency Room.
"In Doug's case it was it was kind of all hands on deck I guess you would say!" said Dr. Jason Wickersham, who was one of the doctors in the ER that day.
For Dr. Wickersham, the biggest concern was keeping Doug's airway clear as the cast iron lever prevented intubation. In fact it was visible to doctors when they looked down Doug's throat. It had to come out but how? The local ER docs in Parkston along with the e-emergency physicians and Careflight paramedics worked hand-in-hand and discussed all their options until it was clear Doug needed to get to Avera McKennan.
"They stabilized me as best they could. But I could not get an airway and I had to be airlifted over to Sioux Falls for further treatment." said Bormann.
"I have done about 1200 flights in my career and very few really standout, but this one was exceptional." said Brandon Marienau, the Careflight paramedic on Doug's transport flight.
Brandon says he was amazed that Doug was conscious and even joking with the crew the whole flight over. Doug asked Brandon to let him know when every five minutes had passed and how much longer until they reach Sioux Falls. Doug says it was his survival instinct kicking in, forcing him to stay awake for the next five minute marker, because he knows he had very little time.
At this point you're probably wondering how did doctors get this lever out of Doug's neck? The doctors in Sioux Falls faced the same dilemma as Parkston but some things in life just can't be explained.
"The nurse gave me a sedative and I kind of drifted into a sleep or whatever and they said they could hear the 'clunk' on the table and they turned around and there it was!" said Bormann.
One end is a round ball, the other a sharp angle, yet somehow this cast iron lever just slid out. Other than a broken jaw and a few scrapes and bruises, Doug walked away from an accident that very well should have killed him.
"I think the great surgeon above help those guys too, it was a team effort. It isn't just the doctor, or me, or the hospital. It was everybody including the Good Lord! Everybody that was involved." said Bormann.
"Having that Careflight team, that team approach is big! We are not out on an island here anymore." said Dr. Wickersham.
"It is a miracle, it really is a miracle. Absolutely." said Marienau.
Doug says he continues to live life like he always did but makes a point to take some time each day for himself. He does get nervous every now and then when he gets back on a tractor but his new tractor now has a covered cab and roll guard. Avera Careflight was the first medical helicopter service in South Dakota and just celebrated its 30th anniversary in May. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.