One of only seven Level I Trauma Centers designated by the state of Arizona—and the only one in Northern Arizona—Flagstaff Medical Center offers lifesaving care to local residents. Just ask Jose Montoya.
During his lunch break at school on Oct. 1, 2007, Montoya—a 19-year-old from Flagstaff—went riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) with his friends. The park was nearby, so the group could easily make it back in time for their afternoon classes. Everything was going well until Montoya tried a 90-degree turn at 50 miles per hour – without a helmet.
“I don’t remember anything – I can’t even remember riding the ATV – but my friends tell me I flipped and was thrown about 20 feet onto the pavement,” Montoya said. “I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital.”
Emergency Treatment Without Delay
Montoya was rushed to FMC’s Trauma Center where emergency physicians performed a computed tomography (CT) scan and found he had head trauma, a punctured spleen and several broken ribs and vertebrae. The team conducted emergency surgery to remove his spleen, and he spent the next 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit at FMC
“It was very fortunate the FMC Trauma Center was so close to where Jose had his accident,” said Bill Ashland, R.N., FMC’s Trauma Services coordinator. “Because of his internal injuries, he probably would not have survived the hour-long helicopter ride to the next closest trauma center in Phoenix. He needed treatment immediately.”
Here for Northern Arizona
FMC enables critically injured patients in Northern Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Utah to be treated during the first crucial moments of the Golden Hour. The Golden Hour is the first 60 minutes after an injury has been sustained. It is during this critical time lives may be saved if specialized medical care is administered. According to a recent study, patients who receive care at a trauma center have a 25- percent greater chance of survival than patients treated at non-trauma centers.
Besides offering rapid care to critically ill patients, the center must meet many other requirements to receive a state trauma center designation. As a Level I Trauma Center, FMC staff must undergo extensive training and continuous education courses, the facility must meet a very high set of standards and a trauma surgeon is required to be available within 15 minutes of a call for any critically ill patient. Additionally, FMC tracks patient outcomes to determine areas for improvement, offers community outreach programs and publishes medical research papers.
“It takes a very high level of commitment on the part of the hospital and the surgeons to be a Level I Trauma Center,” said Andrew Aldridge, M.D., medical director of FMC’s Trauma Center. “Meeting all the requirements to be a Level I Trauma Center requires extra resources for the hospital and huge dedication on the part of the surgeons. A lot of trauma happens at night and on the weekends. At FMC, we’re here for patients at all times.
Surgeon Whitney David, M.D., agrees that being a trauma center is a special endeavor.
“It is an honor to take care of patients who appreciate the care we deliver, and it is a privilege to work with such skilled, compassionate colleagues,” Dr. David said.
Dedicated to Saving Lives
With such an excellent trauma team nearby, residents throughout Northern Arizona can be grateful there is a hospital dedicated to providing the highest level of care in their time of need.
Montoya is extremely thankful FMC was there when he needed immediate trauma care.
“The physicians and staff members at FMC took such great care of me,” Montoya said. “I appreciate everything they did. I’m pretty much back to normal now, but I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for them – I owe them my life.”