Holmstrom family offers special thanks this year for emergency care and helipad.
As Dale and Debbie Holmstrom gathered with their family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, they shared a special reason for giving thanks — Dale’s recovery from a serious farm accident, thanks to the JRMC medical staff and facilities that helped save his life.
It began at 12:19 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, a time etched in Debbie Holmstrom’s memory. Just sitting down to have lunch, she picked up the phone and heard her husband, Dale,
slowly struggling to tell her, “I fell and hit my head on the concrete.” He was gasping for breath after an accident on their farm, 40 miles away.
Debbie tried to get more information. Had he been knocked unconscious? No. Was he hurt? Yes. He was lying on the cement slab on the floor of the Quonset building. His pickup was parked several hundred feet away.
Debbie was in Jamestown, where the couple live. She rushed to her car, then ran back to the house for a coat, then headed for the farm about eight miles northwest of Gackle.
She called him back four times. No answer. Then she called their daughter Becky, who lives in LaMoure. She advised, “Call 911 right now!”
The 911 call center staff kept her on the line while they alerted the Gackle ambulance and first responders, who are their neighbors. After it was dispatched, she hung up in time to catch another call, this one from Becky, who’d been able to get through to Dale. He had made it to his pickup, she told her mother, and was driving alone toward Jamestown.
Debbie cancelled the ambulance and backtracked to meet him. She caught up to him close to the junction of Interstate 94.
“I know now I shouldn’t have been driving,” Dale says, “but I panicked. I had extreme pain in my head and rib cage.”
Debbie drove him to Jamestown Regional Medical Center and pulled up to the emergency entrance. She grabbed a wheelchair, and the admissions staff wheeled him to the triage area and then to a trauma room.
LIFE FLIGHT MAKES A QUICK TRIP
Dale doesn’t remember too much of what led up to his injury. He was alone on the farm, where he’d installed a new overhead door in the Quonset. “I had to make some adjustments,” he explains. He was working on the scaffolding 14 feet above the ground. He scooted back to reach the right spot …and went straight over the edge.
When he hit the concrete floor headfirst, he wanted to scream in pain — but there was no air in his lungs. He lay there trying to catch his breath, then slowly sat up. That’s when he saw the blood gushing out of his head. He laboriously pulled his phone out of his pocket and called his wife.
“The medical team was just amazing,” Debbie says of their arrival at the E.R. “Instantly four people were working on him, one taking his vitals and another inserting an intravenous line as two more moved him to a board to stabilize his neck.” They quickly readied him for x-rays.
“It was just amazing,” she adds. “No one even had to give directions. They just knew what to do. It was so reassuring. There was no chaos! I knew he was being taken care of.”
After his condition was stabilized, the staff called Life Flight to take him to Fargo. Debbie was told they thought he was going to be all right. But with his forehead, eyes and nose swelling, they recommended the trip to Fargo where, if he had head trauma, specialists were equipped to handle it.
“We were so happy we had the new helipad,” she says.
The helicopter nurse told her, “We’ll have him there in 38 minutes. Don’t you beat us!”
Debbie adds, “For the first time, she actually made me smile.”
NOT ON THE DAY’S AGENDA
Looking back, Debbie says, “The funny thing was that every morning I ask Dale what he’s going to do at the farm, since he’s out there alone. I want to know what he’s up to and when he’ll be home.
“There was no scaffolding involved that day in his morning report.”
Dale was hospitalized in Fargo for three days. He’s home now — with two fractured ribs, two stable fractures in his back, a hole in his knee and nine staples in his head.
Dale will be at home recuperating for the next several months. He still has occasional headaches. Too, he has trouble sleeping … and nightmares about his fall.
His wife, though, is full of positive thoughts.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything better during this ordeal,” Debbie reflects. “911 was great. Then admissions at the hospital was phenomenal. They got him in unbelievably fast, with no questions asked beforehand. At the end I just had to sign in a couple of places.
“Priscilla even offered to have someone go get his pickup. He’d left it parked on the side of the road, unlocked, with his billfold in it. I thought that was really above and beyond the call of duty.”
Dale says, “I’m amazed how quickly they stabilized me. I’m very grateful for
Jamestown Regional Medical Center, its wonderful staff … and for the new helipad.”
When Dale and Debbie gathered with their three children and six grandchildren, they all had something very happy to celebrate with their dad and grandpa.
Says Dale, “Thanksgiving was very special for our family this year.”
Jan Barnes, Director