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Lincoln Co. girls put on AirEvac flight for minor injuries despite parent's wishes

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

LINCOLN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Sally Pittman is still preparing her store in Hustonville, and she was setting up Monday afternoon when something went wrong.

"We were here in the store and the kids was playing. Well the shelf fell down on top of them," she recalled.

Pittman's two daughters 3-year-old Hannah and 4-year-old Vanessa were hit, and Vanessa had a cut on her head.

"I went up there just to see what was going on," said Hustonville Fire Chief Jimmy Lane, who was nearby. He went on to describe what he found, "One kid was sitting in the dad's lap, the other was standing up and had a little bloody nose."

According to the emergency call logs, help was on the way at 3:15 and part-time paramedic Troy Cain of the West Lincoln EMS arrived seven minutes later and went to work.

"With what I saw and the mechanism of injury, I elected to fly the first one to the University of Kentucky Medical Center," stated the six year paramedic. He said in those moments time is important.

"(She) had an open wound that I could see the skull," he said, "We're taught to send them to the most appropriate facility."

Cain called for an AirEvac helicopter. The logs show they were dispatched at 3:46, that's 20 minutes after he arrived. The log goes on to show that the helicopter arrived and took off with the Vanessa at 4:10. That's nearly an hour after the initial call for help.

"Why'd it take you 30 minutes to call AirEvac team?" questioned the girls' mother, who wasn't happy. She was about to get even more upset.

"The second child was actually flown out by AirEvac, their paramedic and nurse decided (she) needed to be flown," stated Cain, adding the AirEvac team overrules his authority and that they called for the second helicopter.

"They're only 15 minutes away from the hospital!" reacted Pittman, who couldn't believe she watched them wait so long for helicopters. "I told them to take them to Danville."

I asked Cain about Pittman's request to have her daughters taken to a hospital that's roughly 13 miles away. He replied that he doesn't remember her saying that.

"He would not listen to me. He told my brother I didn't have call, he had say," continued Pittman.

Cain says he opted to fly the injured girls, over the short ambulance run to Ephraim McDowell in Danville, because he could see Vanessa's skull, well as it turns out things weren't that bad.

"I asked the doctor (at UK Hospital), I said, 'They said they seen skull.' He said you have tissue there," said Pittman.

Pittman says Vanessa was given four stitches to the head and one in the back for a wound she says the paramedic never treated. She said Hannah was treated and released with no major injuries.

"I'm glad they're okay, but why scare me more than it was?"

The flight cost $7-thousand for each child. That's $14-thousand that Pittman says her insurance won't cover and that she can't pay.

"The doctor that treated Vanessa and Hannah questioned why they were flown in," she said.

While the girls' mother says she has a lot of questions about the choice, the paramedic who made the call, says he stands by his decision.

"If it was my child that had been injured like that, my child would have been flown," answered Cain.

Still others, like Chief Lane, seem to side with the mom.

"I don't make the call, but as for me, I didn't think they were that bad."

This family is grateful their daughters are safe but they can't understand why they're left with such a steep price to pay.


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