On May 20, 2011, at 4:30 pm, Jeff Sizemore was on his motorcycle cruising up West Chicago Street in Coldwater, Michigan when a car abruptly pulled out in front of him. His memory of the crash stops just before hitting the car.
“I woke up lying in the road, looking at the sky,” Jeff said. Onlookers rushed to his aid. The handlebars and frame of his motorcycle had snapped. The gas tank was smashed. His left side had impacted the car causing a great deal of trauma, but thanks to his helmet his brain was not badly damaged. “My helmet was pretty scuffed up. Things might have turned out a lot differently without it,” Jeff said.
Coldwater Police Department and Coldwater Fire Department responded to the accident and Jeff was rushed by LifeCare Ambulance to the emergency department at Community Health Center of Branch County. By then Jeff was fighting to breathe from a tension pneumothorax (a complication from a collapsed lung). The ED staff placed a chest tube providing Jeff a great deal of relief, but he was also rapidly losing blood from internal injuries.
When West Michigan Air Care arrived, Jeff was still alert, but very pale and cold with weak peripheral pulses. The medical crew explained to Jeff the need for intubation and drugs that would make him sleep through what was to come, and he readily agreed. Following a first pass intubation, the flight crew rapidly transported Jeff to Borgess, initiating blood transfusions en route. Upon arrival at Borgess, massive transfusion protocol was initiated and Jeff went to the operating room.
Jeff suffered a left hemo/pneumothorax with 6 broken ribs, a broken scapula, and abdominal trauma that required the removal of his left kidney and spleen. His right hand required repair as well.
When Jeff woke up several days later he recalls, “I didn’t know what was wrong with me or if I’d be OK… but the nurses at Borgess were very good. The doctors were very knowledgeable. As I got better, they kept giving me new goals to reach and they were very encouraging.”
Encouragement is what helped Jeff get through the whole ordeal. “After the accident, when I was lying there, I thought I was done. I thought I was gone,” he said, “but people stopped and reassured me and they told me I was going to make it. Every step of the way I received encouragement from so many. The people were the ones that made it happen for me.”
Jeff recovered and was discharged in a few weeks with outpatient therapy. In August, he was grateful to be alive for the birth of his son. It’s been a year since his close call and looking back, Jeff knows how fortunate he is to have worn a helmet and been in southwest Michigan’s trauma system that day. He wants his story to bring hope to other victims of trauma and their loved ones.
Jeff’s attending flight crew: Flight Nurse Paul Rigby, Flight Nurse DeWayne Miller, Flight Resident Sarah Martin, D.O., Pilot Jonas Calvillo, Pilot Rick Morley, Communications Specialist Terry Tratt.