Joint Efforts Save Woman; Unborn Child

Photo Cutline: Left to right: Bryce West, Survival Flight Nurse; Stephanie Wade, WRMC RN in the Maternity Unit; Marcus Horner, Survival Flight Paramedic; Rebecca Aviles with Baby Zepplin; Frank Aviles; Dr. Jason Knott, OB/GYN; and Dr. Caroline Carlton, OB/GYN. (Not Pictured: Katrina Bolls, Survival Flight Pilot). This crew, along with employees of the WRMC Medical Complex in Cherokee Village, worked together to save the lives of Rebecca and Zepplin.

Photo Caption: Left to right: Bryce West, Survival Flight Nurse; Stephanie Wade, WRMC RN in the Maternity Unit; Marcus Horner, Survival Flight Paramedic; Rebecca Aviles with Baby Zepplin; Frank Aviles; Dr. Jason Knott, OB/GYN; and Dr. Caroline Carlton, OB/GYN. (Not Pictured: Katrina Bolls, Survival Flight Pilot). This crew, along with employees of the WRMC Medical Complex in Cherokee Village, worked together to save the lives of Rebecca and Zepplin.

 

Roughly a month away from their due date, Rebecca and Frank Aviles of Ash Flat eagerly and joyfully awaited the arrival of their son; however, their joy quickly turned to fear as an unexpected complication suddenly left Rebecca and her unborn son fighting for their lives.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 13, the Aviles family left the OB/GYN office after a routine check-up with news similar to what they had heard at every other appointment: their child’s heartbeat was strong, both mom and baby were healthy, and everything was right on schedule. With that good report, they began the hour-long drive back to their home in Ash Flat. They had three and a half more weeks until the estimated due date. Little did they know, they didn’t have anywhere near that long before he would actually arrive. 

“I felt just fine at the doctor’s office,” said Rebecca. “But when we got close to home, I started getting uncomfortable.”

At home, Rebecca took a warm bath to try to ease what she thought were pregnancy pains. Having given birth just two years before, she was still familiar with the pains associated with pregnancy. When the pains didn’t subside, Rebecca and Frank decided to see if they could find anything at the store for relief. As soon as Rebecca got in the car, she felt a sensation similar to her water breaking, but she knew it was too early. Frank immediately rushed Rebecca to the satellite Emergency Room (ER) at the WRMC Medical Complex in Cherokee Village.

“From there, everything happened very fast. We’re lucky that we live only about five minutes from the ER at Cherokee Village,” said Frank. “We were on the phone with Dr. Knott’s office all the way to the ER, and when we got there, the ER staff kicked into action.”

The staff at the WRMC Medical Complex in Cherokee Village worked quickly to find the problem

“Everyone was waiting; waiting to hear that heartbeat. When Rebecca heard it, her face lit up,” recalled Charity Schaufler, one of the Registered Nurses working that afternoon. Although that was a comfort to everyone, things were far from being okay.

“Our baby’s heartrate kept getting higher and higher. He was losing oxygen,” said Rebecca. An ultrasound revealed a condition called placental abruption.  The placenta is the structure that provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby. If it detaches from the inner wall of the uterus before birth, serious complications can develop, and put the lives of mom and baby in jeopardy. Such was the case with Rebecca.

ER Physician at the WRMC Medical Complex, Dr. James Frasier, knew that if he put Rebecca on a ground ambulance there was a high risk she and her child wouldn’t survive the near hour-long drive. He requested the assistance of Survival Flight medical transport instead. Within minutes, Survival Flight was in the parking lot of the WRMC Medical Complex, and Rebecca was hot loaded into the helicopter. Hot loading is a special transport procedure that allows the flight crew to load a patient on an aircraft without turning it off. It is used in urgent, life-threatening situations.

“It is valuable time saved,” said Shaine Keasler, Base Clinical Manager of Survival Flight 4. “Hot loading allows us to transport patients even faster, which is very important in situations such as the one Mrs. Aviles was experiencing.”

Due to their partnership with White River Health System (WRHS), Survival Flight has been able to educate staff at both the WRMC Medical Complex at Cherokee Village and Stone County Medical Center on the hot loading procedure. “It takes both the Survival Flight team and the healthcare team at each facility to ensure a safe and quick transfer when hot loading a patient,” said Keasler. “We are fortunate to be able to train with the teams at Cherokee Village and Mountain View. It’s an excellent benefit for patients needing urgent care. ”

Survival Flight landed at the WRMC Medical Complex at 4:50pm. Rebecca was loaded and the helicopter was at WRMC in Batesville at 5:08pm. “Our loading time was just four minutes, which is unheard of,” said Keasler. “I am really proud of the cooperation between our Survival Flight crew and the WRMC Medical Complex ER crew.”

Once the helicopter landed at WRMC, Rebecca was taken straight to the operating room where Dr. Knott, Dr. Caroline Carlton, OB/GYN at the Women’s Clinic, and the operating room staff were waiting for her. At 5:24pm, less than an hour after Rebecca’s initial pain began, Zepplin Maddox Aviles was born. He was tiny at just a little over five pounds, but he was healthy. 

Although Frank was still making the drive from Cherokee Village when his son was born, Rebecca was not alone. “Rebecca was sedated, but I’m told the Survival Flight crew waited outside the door until they heard Zepplin crying. Knowing that they stayed close by to make sure Rebecca and Zepplin were okay was comforting,” said Frank.

After three days at WRMC, Frank and Rebecca were able to go home and introduce Zepplin to his siblings, and the rest of the family.

“The entire experience to get Zepplin here safely was very hectic, and very scary,” said Rebecca, “But the physicians, the nurses on staff at the Complex at Cherokee and here at WRMC, and Survival Flight all saved our lives. They gave us our little miracle baby.”