Local and state partners gather together at Monroe Center at ECU Health to train for joint response coordination in response to a large-scale chemical or radiological event.

The Eastern Healthcare Preparedness Coalition (EHPC) recently hosted a regional chemical and radiological tabletop exercise at the ECU Health Monroe Center with local and state partners, including those from hospitals, EMS, EastCare, public health, emergency management, hazmat teams from the Williamston Regional Response Team, and specialists from the 42nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

The tabletop exercise – intended to help ensure joint response coordination in response to a large-scale chemical or radiological event – included a brief training session followed by a plausible scenario that led to discussion of possible outcomes and discovery of gaps in preparedness planning.

Following the exercise, an after-action plan will be developed, followed by measures to ensure areas of opportunity are addressed.

The goal, according to event organizers, is to ensure all agencies are best prepared to serve the community.

Local and state partners gather together at Monroe Center at ECU Health to train for joint response coordination in response to a large-scale chemical or radiological event.

“The tabletop was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with partners and learn more about regional capabilities available to respond to a radiological incident,” said Christa Radford, Industrial Hygiene Consultant – Eastern Region at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Preparedness and Response. “EHPC did a great job planning this exercise and bringing the correct response partners together for an extremely successful event.”

EHPC is a multidisciplinary team of medical and nonmedical professionals, established to provide mobile medical support for short and long term disasters or catastrophic events in eastern North Carolina. Roles in which the EHPC can provide support include set up and provision of a mobile field treatment facility, regional and state logistics support, and community alternate care site support.

As the leading health care provider in eastern North Carolina, ECU Health supports EHPC’s mission, in close partnership with other regional and statewide emergency response partners. These partnerships are essential to helping ensure communities across the East have access to high-quality resources and health care, particularly in the event of a disaster situation.

“I feel this exercise was crucial for our disaster preparedness and response,” said Nat Gladding, manager of Hospital Operations at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital. “It helped us assess our readiness, opportunities, and improve coordination between emergency response agencies. The exercise simulated a real-life scenario, allowing agencies the opportunity to practice their regional response to a disaster of this nature. Participation in disaster drills and exercises promote enhancement of our response for the communities of eastern North Carolina.”

Community | Emergency & Trauma

Dr. Leigh Patterson, chief of services for Emergency Medicine at ECU Health Medical Center and chair of Emergency Medicine at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, stands with Alex Baylis, ED nurse manager at ECU Health Medical Center, outside of the Emergency Department at ECU Health Medical Center.

In the years following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care as a whole has fundamentally changed — as have the lives, habits and health care needs of communities across the country.

Today, emergency departments (EDs) everywhere are seeing high volumes while staffing shortages persist. In rural areas with communities that are sicker than many others, these challenges are even more magnified.

“I’ve got patients who can’t see a doctor in the community mixed in with patients who have a pulmonary embolism,” said Dr. Leigh Patterson, chief of services for Emergency Medicine at ECU Health Medical Center and chair of Emergency Medicine at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “My team and I are trying to see the forest through the trees. Who’s the patient that needs the services? Everyone needs the services, but who’s the patient that medically needs the services next? And that’s hard.”

Dr. Leigh Patterson, chief of services for Emergency Medicine at ECU Health Medical Center and chair of Emergency Medicine at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, stands with Alex Baylis, ED nurse manager at ECU Health Medical Center, outside of the Emergency Department at ECU Health Medical Center.
Dr. Leigh Patterson, left, and Alex Baylis stand outside of the Emergency Department at ECU Health Medical Center.

Meeting the challenge

At ECU Health Medical Center and throughout ECU Health system hospitals, leadership teams have needed to adapt quickly to meet the needs of the many patients seen through EDs.

Alex Baylis, ED nurse manager at ECU Health Medical Center, said she has been proud to see the department’s flexibility and persistence while helping patients through their time in the ED.

“We have flexed and bended, added and changed our spaces, we’ve changed our beds, we’ve changed our staffing patterns, we’ve changed our hours of when team members come in, when team members go home. We’re doing all that we know to do, and have the power to do, to get care to our patients faster and better,” Baylis said. “Right now, we’re facing really difficult barriers and obstacles within our space that are challenging, but we’re doing everything that we can and know to do to help our patients.”

Dr. Patterson echoed Baylis’ sentiment.

“We’ve tried, we are going to continue to try and it isn’t going to look the way it used to look,” Dr. Patterson said. “I think patients have been very understanding when we’ve had to do things in a different way. It is a really ugly reality right now, but we’re going to flex a lot. What I really want people to understand is what you see in the ED is actually all of the hospitals and all of health care right now.”

Matter of perspective

Dr. Patterson said she has seen a great deal of change in eastern North Carolina since she first came to the Brody School of Medicine and ECU Health Medical Center 17 years ago.

When she arrived at what is now ECU Health Medical Center, she became just the fifth female emergency medicine clinician. Today, she said, there are more females than that in the intern class alone.

“I am not the generation that was the first and only,” Dr. Patterson said. “I had other female residents who were with me. We were definitely the minority, but we’re not such a minority today.”

Dr. Patterson estimated there to be about a 50/50 male to female split among emergency medicine training program graduates across the country today and more women are holding education leadership positions.

Dr. Leigh Patterson poses for a photo in a patient room in the Emergency Department at ECU Health Medical Center.

However, that same shift has been slower to develop on the administrative leadership side.

“It takes some time to get all the way up the ranks so there are probably a dozen women chairs in academic medicine and emergency medicine and other positions like mine,” Dr. Patterson said. “But really, not a large number of us when you consider there are a couple hundred of our programs.”

From an outsider’s perspective, the number of female leaders in the ED may seem unique, but to those on the floor, it’s nothing to bat an eye at.

“We’re kind of past that – ‘Look, that’s so cool.’ Some days we’re still there,” Dr. Patterson said. “A lot of days it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I mean, I don’t think our nurses notice. We could go 24 hours in one area and it’s all women physicians and it’s just like that’s Tuesday. We don’t stop and notice that.”

Baylis noted that from the nursing perspective, more males in nursing tend to gravitate toward EDs and Intensive Care Units, but on the leadership side it is predominantly females.

Dr. Patterson reflected on the early part of her career and how conversations have shifted and become more normalized. Whether it’s the way patients address female providers or the interactions teams have with each other, she has seen positive change.

“I have men, physicians now who can have open discussions about, ‘Hey, how are you taking your FMLA leave when you have a baby? Are you splitting it, are you taking it at the end?’ The normalization of those conversations, that’s what comes from it,” Dr. Patterson said. “We’re not there all the way, we still have a long way to go. But it was not this normal in my first job.”

Providing compassionate care in trying times

As the care needs in EDs have changed, Baylis and Dr. Patterson noted how crucial it is to connect with patients on a human level and provide high-quality, compassionate care in stressful situations.

Baylis said the mindset of nurses in the ED has changed drastically in the past few years.

“In emergency nursing, you had to have tough skin and be almost hard,” Baylis said. “I think it’s changed with the population that we’re seeing in our patients, but also the care that we’re giving. We’ve learned to be more soft and more caring and taking that time to make a connection. We can be nice while still setting boundaries with our patients.”

Alex Baylis poses for a photo in a patient room in the Emergency Department at ECU Health Medical Center.

Dr. Patterson said providing care in eastern North Carolina is a very unique situation. She shared that she trained at a county hospital in New Orleans and that in large, urban environments, it’s less common that she or her family members would be patients at the same hospital at which she practices.

Here, there is no line.

“So much of what I saw when I was in my own training, in my mind, I could pretend it wasn’t going to happen to me and you get this lovely distance that you don’t have here. And that’s good for you but, wow, some days it’s really hard,” Dr. Patterson said. “This is the same hospital you go to, right? I had my baby here. My husband has been a patient in our ED. My dad has been admitted here. I think this place is really challenging for that because it’s your community, you know, there’s no separation here.”

Baylis and Dr. Patterson said while that challenge exists, they are proud to serve in the same community they call home. What’s not lost on either of them: that solutions they are working to find in support of the communities they serve also directly impact their own family and friends — and light the path for ED teams to follow.


ECU Health Emergency & Trauma Care

ECU Health Emergency & Trauma Care Locations

Emergency & Trauma | Featured

By Public Radio East

Frostbite isn’t the only concern with the frigid temperatures expected in eastern North Carolina this weekend.

“You can’t smell it. You can’t see it. You can’t taste it,” said ECU Health Chief for the Division of Medical Toxicology Dr. Jason Hack

Dr. Hack said carbon monoxide poisoning can sicken people when their furnaces malfunction or they use other means to heat their homes.

He said that includes, “HVAC, our heaters in our home. Portable heaters, propane portable heaters that some people might bring in, or if they lose their electricity because of an ice storm or something along those lines, they might want to bring in a generator out of the storm or close to the home.”

Dr. Hack also said people should never sit in a running car to escape the cold if the heat is out at their home.

“Some people would tend to sit in their car and turn on turn on their vehicle while it’s still in their attached garage,” he said, “Even with the door open, these can be sources of enough carbon monoxide to injure or even, unfortunately, kill people within the home itself.”

It’s not a good idea, but a dangerous one, to use the gas stove in your kitchen to warm up the house. Dr. Hack said, “It could be producing low levels of carbon monoxide that might accumulate.”

And the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be non-specific.

“It can look like a lot of other things,” he said, “Such as weakness or dizziness. Some people complain of some shortness of breath. Headache is one of the most common presenting symptoms of carbon monoxide. Confusion. Some people actually complain of chest pain or palpitations and fainting.”

Dr. Hack said the best defense is a working carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom and living space in the house; he recommends that people to make sure the batteries are fresh and they’re working properly before the cold air arrives this weekend.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 1,200 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning annually and more than 100,000 people visit the emergency department each year.

Emergency & Trauma | Health News

Students from the Brody School of Medicine, ECU College of Nursing, and Department of Physician Assistant Studies participate in the Interprofessional Triage and Emergency Assessment and Management (ITEAM) Day mass casualty training event.

Students from the Brody School of Medicine, ECU College of Nursing, and Department of Physician Assistant Studies participated in the Interprofessional Triage and Emergency Assessment and Management (ITEAM) Day mass casualty training event hosted by the Brody School of Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 14. The training provides a unique opportunity for students from different health care disciplines to collaborate and gain hands-on experience in managing emergency events.

Experts from the ECU College of Nursing, Brody School of Medicine, Department of Physician Assistant Studies and ECU Health EastCare gave students interactive instruction in procedural skills, such as basic airway management, hemorrhage control and triage techniques. Students then applied these skills during a mass casualty simulation at the Interprofessional Clinical Simulation Center at the Brody School of Medicine.

Students from the Brody School of Medicine, ECU College of Nursing, and Department of Physician Assistant Studies participate in the Interprofessional Triage and Emergency Assessment and Management (ITEAM) Day mass casualty training event.

“ITEAM Day was beneficial to promote collaboration and interprofessionalism among different health care providers,” said Stephiya Sabu, first year Brody School of Medicine student. “Doing this in the setting of a mass casualty event was important as they can be very stressful, and having this experience beforehand will help in the future if we are ever in that situation.”

This year’s simulation was a mass shooting incident. The Office of Clinical Skills Assessment and Education provided simulated patients, portraying symptoms and behaviors consistent with injuries sustained in a mass shooting, including confusion and panic.

Adding an extra layer of realism to the exercise, the ECU School of Theatre and Dance lent its expertise in moulage and makeup to create lifelike wounds on the simulated patients. The ECU Student Government Association provided funding for food and materials.

Students from the Brody School of Medicine, ECU College of Nursing, and Department of Physician Assistant Studies participate in the Interprofessional Triage and Emergency Assessment and Management (ITEAM) Day mass casualty training event.

Students participating in the simulation were coached by a multi-disciplinary team of experts who provided feedback throughout the training. Chuck Strickland, outreach coordinator with EastCare, served as an instructor and provided invaluable insights into the role Emergency Medical Services (EMS) plays in a mass casualty incident. Students were educated on EMS’s initial response, patient management and treatment strategies.

“It is important for students to know the role EMS plays in initial patient triage and how we would request resources and determine patient destinations,” said Strickland. “EMS identifies the volume of patients and their acuity levels, then gets nurses, physicians and physician assistants to do on-scene care for high acuity patients. Students also learned the role of critical care transport and how those professionals would be engaged.”

Nursing students, medical students and physician assistant students shared their respective expertise while working together to promptly triage and treat patients. Both students and instructors underscored the significance of applying classroom learning to simulated real-life scenarios, highlighting the practical value of such experiences.

“Recent events in our community emphasize the unpredictability of mass casualties and just how terrifying they are,” said Lachlan Younce, first year Brody School of Medicine student. “As a medical student, I seek to understand my role as a medical professional in those situations. Participating in this mass casualty exercise exposed me to vital skills like patient triage, resource-efficient care and the importance of teamwork when working alongside my health care colleagues, including PAs and nurses. I am thankful for how this ITEAM training experience helped me develop my readiness as a medical professional.”

Emergency & Trauma | Featured | Health News

Doctors, nurses and support teams in the ECU Health Medical Center emergency department understand the importance of being prepared for any scenario. That is why the Medical Center ED and Trauma Department teams took part in a mass casualty disaster drill Sept. 7 in an effort to test and improve knowledge of triaging, EPIC documentation, response roles and more as part of the American College of Surgeons accreditation process.

“The more prepared we are now, the more lives we can save,” said exercise director Dr. David Trisler, critical care surgeon at ECU Health Medical Center and clinical assistant professor of trauma and surgical critical care at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Our community depends on us to be there for them during the most difficult circumstances. These types of exercises ensure we will be able to meet that need.”

Mass casualty situations can be difficult to imagine, especially ones that happen here in our local community.

ECU Health team members work together during a mass casualty disaster drill in September.

With the use of inflatable mannequins representing the both children and adult patients, the disaster drill consisted of 30-40 casualties brought to the ED following a simulated mass shooting at a local event. Drill participants worked through triaging the patients based on their medical status and moving them through the emergency care and surgical process, using real-time information like numbers of ORs and beds in use during the time of the drill.

For Dr. Eric Toschlog, chief of trauma and acute care surgery for ECU Health Medical Center and Brody and the rest of the emergency department team, preparing for those situations comes with the territory of working at the only Level I Trauma Center in eastern North Carolina.

“The ECU Health Medical Center emergency department serves as a hub for 1.4 million people who live across the region, which highlights the importance of being prepared for any circumstance imaginable,” said Dr. Toschlog. “The more we work to improve our process and understanding, the better prepared we will be to save lives.”

Those involved met immediately following the drill to debrief on the exercise, closely examining strengths and weakness, as well as plans for improvements, all in an effort to ensure the Medical Center emergency department team is well-positioned to provide high-quality care to the community during a time of dire need. The common thread throughout the event and debrief was the direct correlation between preparation and lives that could be saved.

“This was a great opportunity for us to test our knowledge and we certainly learned a lot of valuable lessons that will serve us well,” said Dr. Trisler. “I could not be more proud of the entire ED team for taking the time to participate in this disaster drill.”

Emergency & Trauma | Health News

ECU Health emergency medicine residents treat a patient during an exercise at Wildwood Park in Greenville.

Wildwood Park in Greenville served as the perfect setting for “Emergency Medicine Wilderness Day” as ECU Health emergency medicine residents practiced assessing and treating a variety of common outdoor ailments including altitude sickness, lightning strikes, falls from trees and more.

On March 29, approximately 20 emergency medicine residents attended training and worked in small groups to run through simulated injury scenarios with real people. From knowing how to stabilize an injured person, to assessing injuries and helping get them to safety, emergency residents worked together to treat the injuries under the watchful eye of experienced faculty members from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Residents received real-time instruction and feedback from faculty as they worked through their training.

Standardized patients from Brody’s Office of Clinical Skills Assessment and Education acted as the patients in each scenario. Standardized patients are trained to mimic real patients so that students can learn. Their role is to help prepare future health care professionals for a variety of patient interfaces.

ECU Health emergency medicine residents treat a patient during an exercise at Wildwood Park in Greenville.

“There are a number of practical applications for this type of training, especially for our medical residents who get to test their knowledge in the field,” said Dr. Jennifer Bennett, an emergency medicine physician at ECU Health and clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brody. “These scenarios are the types of things that we, as emergency medicine physicians, address somewhat commonly. We can apply the knowledge and skills learned out here to patient care.”

The day was a success, according to Dr. Bennett, who helped create the simulation Emergency Medicine Wilderness Day training event last year alongside Dr. Jennifer Parker-Cote, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brody. Both doctors helped organize the Wilderness Day, coming up with unique patient scenarios, including the altitude sickness training station which featured a standardized patient acting as a distressed hiker. The residents removed a fake snake from the area, asked the patient questions about their medications and medical history, moved the patient to a lower area and helped get them to further medical care.

“It’s always nice to get outdoors instead of sitting in a lecture hall,” said emergency medicine resident Tyler Ruchti, DO. “When you’re in the hospital, you have all of your tools and all of your equipment and know where it is, and when we come out here and do things like this it’s a change of scenery. You have to think outside the box.”

The training is another example of the valued partnership between ECU Health and Brody. Residents at an academic health system like ECU Health have support and resources for continued education from faculty and the Interprofessional Clinical Simulation Program at Brody, enriching their clinical training experience. Residents are able to participate in trainings like this to prepare for real situations with real patients both behind the walls of the hospital and out in the community.

“This training was partially about simulating complex medical issues that you may encounter in the wilderness as well as providing a little wellness for our residents,” said Dr. Parker-Cote. “This is a fun way to test knowledge and work together as a team. When it comes to education, there are different modalities for teaching. Learning in this type of environment provides us another way of reinforcing the knowledge they have learned throughout their residency, and it prepares them to help their fellow community members no matter the situation.”


ECU Health Emergency & Trauma

Brody School of Medicine

Brody Interprofessional Clinical Simulation Program

ECU Health emergency medicine residents treat a patient during an exercise at Wildwood Park in Greenville.

Emergency & Trauma | Featured | Health News

Wendy Gardner competes in an archery event.

Survivors of stroke and brain injury had an opportunity to artistically express their journey during a recent Unmasking Brain Injury event at ECU Health Medical Center.

The Brain Injury Association of North Carolina sponsored the Unmasking Brain Injury workshop. This event provides blank face masks and supplies to decorate the masks. Unmasking Brain Injury is an organization that aims to bring awareness to the prevalence of brain injuries and give survivors a voice and the means to educate others of what it’s like to live and recover with a brain injury. The event was the first of its kind in the ECU Health system.

Michele Horvath, stroke navigator at ECU Health Medical Center, helped run the event and said it was a wonderful moment to share with survivors.

“Everybody was really engaged and it was an emotional time for survivors because it made them artistically express their stroke or their traumatic brain injury and some of them are still in recovery,” Horvath said. “They’re really excited to share their story and it was really heartfelt. We’re hoping to bring community awareness to some of these brain injuries.”

Wendy Gardner competes in an archery event.
Photos Courtesy of Wendy Gardner

Along with a support person, each attendee, many of them members of ECU Health’s Stroke Support Network, decorated a mask to represent their journey and recovery process from their stroke or brain injury.

Molly Twiss, marketing coordinator at the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, said it was the first Unmasking Brain Injury event she’d helped coordinate and she felt inspired after the event. She explained that the masks could be anything attendees wanted, not just their brain injury or stroke, but about themselves as a whole.

“The masks are a look inside of them, what they’re feeling, what they’ve gone through, what they hope for the future,” Twiss said. “Some can be as small as their favorite TV show, their favorite color or something about what their life was like before their injury. So if they were a skier beforehand and their accident was a ski accident, they can have it ski related. The mask could represent just something to get their mind off of having this invisible injury.”

Discovering New Passions

Wendy Gardner had her first child in 2000. Ten days after her son was born in Wilson, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which has affected the left side of her body.

About a year ago, Gardner joined the Stroke Support Network at ECU Health and she said she’s enjoyed connecting with people in eastern North Carolina who have had similar experiences. She said the Unmasking Brain Injury event was a positive experience for everyone and she hopes for similar events through the support group in the future.

Gardner’s mask was painted red white and blue and adorned with a gold medal, representative of her new found passion — and talent — for archery.

About three years ago, Gardner stumbled upon archery as a sport she could participate in. Today, Gardner is a member of the USA Para Archery World team.

Wendy Gardner poses for a photo with her husband while wearing medals earned in Santiago, Chile.

“I hadn’t been able to find a sport that I can do because my whole left side of my body is affected,” Gardner said. “So I can’t run and I really can’t swim and do the usual activities. So I’d kind of given up actually finding something that I could do. We happened to go to a big archery competition because our daughter was interested in it. I saw a guy who has no arms and shoots with his feet and his name is Matt Stutzman. He’s on our team. That is what got me inspired. I thought, if he can do it with no arms and I have one arm I could use, we could find some way for me to do this.”

Wendy and her husband went to work on figuring out some adaptive equipment to help her hone her new craft. She said there are not many resources available to help people with making adaptive archery equipment so they went through a “trial and error” process.

Once the Gardner family got a handle on making adaptive equipment and realized how expensive it could be for others to create their own equipment, they started a nonprofit called GX4 Adaptive Archery.

Her attitude since first suffering her stroke has made all the difference. She said she never expected to be involved in something like the USA Archery Team, and through her determination to try new things—coupled with her relentless effort—Gardner now travels the world doing something she loves.

This includes trips to the United Arab Emirates, Chile and Czech Republic with the team, and she hopes to be in France next summer for the 2024 Paralympic Games.

“I’m always like, ‘Why not me?’ And I would never have done anything like this if this had not happened to me,” Gardner said. “So I always tell people, go try something new. The main thing is show up, you’ve got to show up and don’t be afraid to look foolish doing it. Because sometimes, as someone with a physical disability, you will. But just show up and try and do your best.”


Stroke Support Network – Upcoming Events

Brain Injury Support Group – Upcoming Events

Unmasking Brain Injury

Community | Emergency & Trauma | Health News | Neurology

An ECU Health EastCare ambulance drives down the road.

Washington, N.C. ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, a campus of ECU Health Medical Center President Debra Hernandez, MHA, RN, FACHE, CENP, will assume the fulltime role as senior vice president, System Emergency Services effective Feb. 26.

Debra Hernandez, MHA, RN, FACHE, CENP

Hernandez joined ECU Health in 2018 as the president of ECU Health Duplin Hospital. In 2020, she transitioned into a dual role as president of ECU Health Beaufort Hospital as well as system vice president of Emergency Services.

Hernandez’s transition into this role goes hand-in-hand with ECU Health’s investment in transforming its care delivery system with the goal of ensuring patients receive care at the right place and time across the region. Emergency Services are a critical component of health care delivery and impact capacity, access and clinical operations, particularly at a time when patient volumes in emergency departments are high. Hernandez, alongside physician leadership, will be responsible for clinical and operational excellence for system Emergency Services.

“I want to thank Debra for leading a transformational period at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital and for her willingness to tackle this new challenge,” said Brian Floyd, chief operating officer, ECU Health. “Debra’s expertise and experience in overseeing Emergency Services are particularly valuable in today’s health care environment where we are seeing increasingly high demands in emergency departments across the nation, state and here locally. I have full confidence in Debra’s ability to optimize our system-wide Emergency Services and improve clinical efficiencies for patients and team members.”

With Hernandez’s transition into her new role, Dennis Campbell, II DHA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CPHQ, will serve as interim president at ECU Health Beaufort. Campbell has been with the health system and in his current role as ECU Health Beaufort’s vice president of Patient Care Services for more than two years.

Emergency & Trauma | Press Releases

Parker Byrd and his care team pose for a photo outside of an ECU Health EastCare ambulance to celebrate the Patient Transport of the Year Award.

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health’s EastCare team was awarded MedEvac Transport of the Year by the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) for their initial transport of East Carolina University freshman Parker Byrd and subsequent transports throughout his recovery. The EastCare air medical team, Steve Bonn, pilot, Henry Gerber, EMT, Milando Stancill, EMT, Leigh Ann Creech, communication technician, Jessica Rispoli, flight RN and John vonRosenberg, flight paramedic, accepted the award on Oct. 26 for their efforts rendering life-saving care to Byrd.

On July 23, 2022, Byrd, an incoming freshman and baseball player at ECU, was boating in a remote creek when his legs were cut by the propeller, resulting in severe trauma. A friend and teammate was able to pull him back in the boat and immediately applied a makeshift tourniquet. First responders on the scene recognized the severity of his injuries and requested air medical transport. The EastCare air medical team jumped into action, rendering life-saving trauma care on the flight to ECU Health Medical Center, the only Level 1 Trauma Center east of Raleigh.

Parker Byrd and his care team pose for a photo outside of an ECU Health EastCare ambulance to celebrate the Patient Transport of the Year Award.

“EastCare team members dedicate themselves to ensuring the people of eastern North Carolina who live in vast, rural areas have access to timely and life-saving care,” said Trey Labreque, director of EastCare. “Thanks to the quick actions of everyone involved, including Beaufort County EMS for their initial response and clear communications with the flight crew, the transition of care was quick and efficient, and the patient made it to the trauma center stabilized, which is our objective as a flight team. This award is testament to all EastCare team members who live the ECU Health mission.”

Quick actions by the flight crew dramatically improved Byrd’s vital signs prior to arriving at ECU Health Medical Center. Flight nurses administered plasma, blood products and treatment for traumatic hemorrhagic shock during the air transport. In the following weeks, due to the severity of injury, the EastCare team provided Byrd transportation to the wound care center twice daily, multiple times per week to receive specialized care and hyperbaric treatments at ECU Health’s Wound Healing Center.

“The EastCare team has been nothing but phenomenal to me,” said Byrd. “From day one, they were doing their job to the best of their ability. I want to thank each and every person on the EastCare team for what they have done for me.”

Byrd was discharged in mid-August, nearly one month after his injury. After 22 surgeries and a partial leg amputation, Byrd continues to undergo outpatient care and rehabilitation in his recovery process. Byrd plans to continue classes at ECU and practice with the baseball team while he undergoes rehabilitation.

Please join ECU Health in recognizing the EastCare team for their rescue of Byrd and their efforts to render emergency care to all patients across eastern North Carolina.

Awards | EastCare | Emergency & Trauma | Featured | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – July 19, 2021 ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) is proud to announce it recently joined the American Trauma Society’s (ATS) network. VMC is one of only 130 hospitals in the United States designated as a Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) facility. TSN links survivors and their families with others who have shared experiences, providing support and resources to enable victims to rebuild their lives.

“We are extremely excited to provide resources patients and families need to recover both mentally and physically,” said Bryan Lake, trauma outreach coordinator at VMC. “Our goal is to compassionately support our survivors and community through all stages of trauma recovery. We have a unique, life-changing opportunity to guide patients and families through uncharted waters and convey the understanding they are not alone in this journey.”

The program aims to help survivors manage day-to-day challenges after a traumatic injury as well as bring together trauma survivors and families to connect with one another and share support and information about the recovery process.

Additionally, the TSN will collaborate with health care providers to deliver specifically tailored care and support to patients and their families and friends after a traumatic injury and will help build a community of advocates dedicated to improving injury prevention efforts and treatment.

“As one of only six hospitals in North Carolina to have earned Level I Trauma Center status, VMC is proud to offer quality care for trauma patients and their families and values this opportunity to further support them beyond the doors of the hospital,” said Lake. “Trauma patients will now have a community of people experiencing similar hurdles while adjusting to life after a traumatic injury.”

When a trauma patient is admitted to VMC, coordinators will introduce patients and families to the program. The network is open to all ages, from children to adults. Participants will be connected with other members both in the local area and around the country through virtual and in-person support groups.

The network is open to survivors, previous trauma patients, families, friends, health care workers and any community members. Those interested in joining the Trauma Survivors Network can visit its website to learn more.

Emergency & Trauma | Press Releases