He’s been called a miracle by his family and caregivers alike, but Logan Pulliam is just grateful to be alive and doing well today. It’s why the only thing this seventh-grade Park Hills, Mo., boy wanted for Christmas last year was to meet the people who helped save his life.
So, in December 2015, he got to do just that when members of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Critical Care Transport Team, Leadwood Fire Department, St. Francois County Ambulance District and St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department came together to meet the young man, who touched all of their lives.
“It’s because of St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the first responders and God that Logan is here today, and we can’t say thank you enough,” says Alana Pulliam, Logan’s mom.
How it began
Logan’s only memory from the morning of Aug. 4, 2015, was when the 12-year-old at the time went out early to check on his family’s chickens and goat carrying his .22 rifle. But after that, he has no memory until 10 days later when he realized he was a patient at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
The Pulliam family’s life turned upside down on a typical summer morning when Alana was making breakfast for her family. When it was time to eat, Alana asked her oldest son, Matthew, to go find his brother.
When he went outside, he found Logan bleeding and called 911. All Alana and her husband, Rusty, know for sure is that the gun Logan was carrying accidentally went off and he was shot in the head near his eyebrow.
“I was just trying to get Logan to stay with me while we waited for the first responders,” Alana recalls. “We really don’t know what happened, and Logan does not remember, but he has been taught how to use the gun safely and knows how to handle it.”
First on the scene were the Leadwood Fire Department, St. Francois County EMS and St. Francois County Sherriff’s Department. Because of the severity of Logan’s injuries, they immediately requested a helicopter to transport Logan to a hospital.
Responding directly to the scene
Just one month earlier, St. Louis Children’s Hospital had begun a new program called Pediatric Scene Response, by which members of the Critical Care Transport Team are flown to the scene of a critical injury or accident and can transport the patient directly to Children’s Hospital.
Responding to the call for Logan became their first pediatric scene response. Based out of Parkland Health Center, the Children’s team — flight nurses Chelsea Italiano, RN, BSN, TNS, and Jeff Atwood, RN, CCRN, C-NPT — were flown by pilot Keith Buckley on KidsFlight 1 and landed on the highway near the Pulliam’s home.
“All I could hear was the helicopter, but I had no idea what was happening,” Alana says. “I was amazed that they could get so close to our house. We’ve been told that being able to take him directly to St. Louis Children’s Hospital with the flight team is what saved him.”
Atwood says the ability to arrive on the scene and begin treating Logan immediately was key to saving Logan’s life that day.
“There is a critical time period when treating a patient with traumatic injury that is referred to as the ‘Golden Hour.’ It has been shown that the earlier interventions are implemented, the better the outcome the patient will have,” he says. “As critical care-trained nurses, Chelsea and I recognized the signs of immediate brain swelling, which ultimately could have resulted in brain herniation and death.”
Thanks to having a specialized team and access to medications not typically available to most EMS crews, the transport team was able to administer a life-saving medication to reduce Logan’s brain swelling within minutes of his injury.
Both Atwood and Italiano cannot say enough about those who arrived first on the scene and their impact on Logan’s care.
“Everyone who responded to Logan’s accident did an amazing job. Hats off to St. Francois County EMS, who already had Logan trauma-packaged with working IVs, which saved valuable time,” Atwood says. “The fire and sheriff’s department did an amazing job of establishing a landing zone on the highway and making sure the scene was safe so the helicopter could land safely.”
Italiano knows that “it’s never easy to take care of a child, especially when you don’t do it every day like we do,” she says.
“The crew that responded and treated Logan prior to Jeff and I did a tremendous job,” she adds. “As soon as we arrived to the ambulance where Logan was, one person gave a very clear report of what had happened. This was all very useful for Jeff and I, since we only had a 10-minute ground time before Logan was on his way to Children’s.”
Road to recovery and beyond
Logan was immediately taken to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where he spent more than three weeks in both the pediatric intensive care unit and on the 12th floor, where he also underwent physical therapy.
“The first 24 hours were critical for Logan, but once he made it through those, I knew we were going to be OK,” Alana says. “Everyone at Children’s was wonderful. They always answered my questions, and if they didn’t have an answer, they would find the answer.”
During Logan’s stay, Alana was able to meet both Atwood and Italiano and thank them for taking care of her son. In fact, getting a “massive bear hug” from Alana a few days after Logan’s arrival in the ICU is one of Atwood’s favorite memories.
“Logan and his family were special to the transport team because of his success,” says Melissa Weick, RN, a transport team flight nurse and coordinator of the team’s annual adopt-a-family program during the holidays.
“When we found out all Logan wanted for Christmas was to meet the first responders and flight team who helped him, we wanted to do even more for the family,” says Weick, who coordinated donations not only from the transport team but also the other first responders who cared for Logan.
Alana says she was so surprised when she got the call from Weick that the transport team not only wanted to meet Logan, but they wanted to adopt the entire family for the holidays.
“We were told not all of their stories turn out like Logan, and he is a miracle,” she says. “Logan just said, ‘All I want is for them to see what I went from the day of the accident to where I am today.’”
Italiano and Atwood say seeing Logan as an active 13-year-old is one of the best rewards they could have from that day.
“I can’t imagine what this family has gone through this past year, and I am so glad that the transport team adopted his family for Christmas,” Italiano says. “It was an absolute blessing and an honor to see his entire family and receive numerous hugs from all of them.”