Patients pay tribute to LifeFlight program |

Patients pay tribute to LifeFlight program

Walt and Patty Gall have four reasons to be grateful for Allegheny General Hospital’s LifeFlight program.

Three years ago, while 26 weeks pregnant with quadruplets, Patty went into labor. The helicopter arrived after she had given birth to Mary in the bathroom of her Butler home. The nurses on board cared for Mary and helped deliver her three sisters, Heather, Emily and Natalie.

Had it not been for the work of the LifeFlight crew, it is possible none of the sisters would have survived, their father said Monday.

The Galls joined other patients, doctors and LifeFlight workers at Allegheny General on the North Side to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the hospital’s aeromedical program. The celebration gave families of patients who were saved because of LifeFlight a chance to reunite with the pilots and nurses who cared for them.

“It’s very overwhelming,” said Thomas A. Bunny, of Fombell, a registered nurse and one of the LifeFlight workers who tended to the Galls on the helicopter. “The last time I saw them, they were just born. It’s great to see them up and about. They’re doing so well.”

Stories such as the Gallses are not rare for LifeFlight personnel. Vicky Wesiner went into labor one year ago Wednesday. As she was being flown to West Penn Hospital, Wesiner, of Ligonier, Westmoreland County, gave birth to her son, Nathaniel.

“If it hadn’t been for them, he may not have survived. We had an angel up there and here he is,” she said, smiling at her son.

Founded by a group of nurses and emergency workers from Allegheny General in 1978, LifeFlight became the first aeromedical program in the northeast. Over the years, more than 50,000 missions have been flown. The program recently was presented with the 2003 Ambulance Service of the Year Award by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council.

The program has a fleet of five helicopters and maintains bases in Allegheny, Butler, Indiana and Westmoreland counties. It employs a team of 48 nurses and 21 pilots.

“For 25 years, LifeFlight has been a central component of [Allegheny General Hospital’s] identity as one of the region’s preeminent health care providers,” said Connie Cibrone, president and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital. “The success of LifeFlight is a testament to the dedication, skill and compassion of every health care professional who has been associated with the program through the years.”

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