KALISPELL - Kalispell’s Logan Health will hold its 45th annual A.L.E.R.T. banquet on Saturday to raise funds for advanced life support helicopters and aircraft used on rescue missions.
Last July, ALERT flew baby Calum McCully to Salt Lake City for specialized surgery after he was born premature, weighing only 1 pound and 6 ounces.
“So, at 25 weeks’ gestation we had to deliver little Calum here,” said Calum's mother Verity Thorne.
Last May, Verity gave emergency birth to Calum.
“I was having some stomach pain, went into the doctor and found out that I had preeclampsia and that we had to do something because it was life-threatening for not only me but for Calum,” said Thorne.
Calum was born without lungs and received intense care at Logan Health’s Children’s Hospital in Kalispell as he fought for his life.
“You know hooked up to everything, and all of the monitors and the doctors and everything, them telling us everything that could go wrong was very scary and there was just a lot of unknown,” said Thorne.
After two months in the intensive care unit, Calum needed to be transported to Salt Lake City for specialized heart and eye surgeries to avoid going blind.
That’s when ALERT flew in.
“My role as the pediatric flight nurse at that time was to provide care to Calum and his family during the transport,” said ALERT Pediatric Flight Nurse Brian Stewart.
Calum was transported in ALERT’s fixed-wing aircraft and with Stewart by his side for the entire flight, as Calum received specialty care.
“So, we use a transport isolette, which has everything built in that we would need to care for him just like he was in a NICU in a hospital,” added Stewart.
After successful surgeries in Utah, Calum was cleared to return home, but he needed specialized transport by flight.
One problem, no specialized aircraft were available.
“You know they were like we have to get you out of here but emergencies trump transports and obviously they’re a hub, so they’re flying out for emergencies every day, multiple times a day, so in my head I’m like we’re never going to get out of here,” said Thorne.
That’s When ALERT came to the rescue, flying back down to Salt Lake City to pick up Calum and transport him safely back home.
“When we have the availability to be able to go and pick up one of our patients and bring them back home, it’s a really special trip for us because we know that we are getting them close to home where they can still get the care that they need but do so, so that it’s not such a burden on the families,” said Stewart.
Verity couldn’t believe it when she heard the news.
“To hear that we might be stuck for days and then just a matter of a couple hours later, like no, the ALERT team is coming to get us, like that was amazing to me, it was the happiest I’d been in those stressful months you know with Calum, dealing with all of that."
Verity said Calum is continuing his recovery back at their family home in Libby and is making progress every day.
“Calum’s doing great, I mean obviously he was this size, and now he’s getting big, and eyes are great, he sees really well, and I mean he’s really honestly a little miracle baby, anything could have gone wrong, and we were lucky that it didn’t.”
Tickets for Saturday's ALERT banquet can be purchased here.