Saving lives for 30 years: Flight For Life marks a milestone

WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Flight For Life is marking its 30th year! Patients and staff alike gathered to celebrate the milestone on Saturday, September 27th.

These days it's a familiar sight with blades beating the air, a flight for life helicopter arrives on the scene of an emergency. For Terry Frederick, seeing the chopper up close brings out strong emotions.

"My head was bleeding, I had blood coming out of my eyes, my nose, my ears, my right eye was hanging out of my head," said Frederick, former Flight For Life patient.

Frederick was working on a construction site in August of 2012, when a 70 foot long tress fell 25 feet and came down straight on his head.

"I was life flighted into Froedtert when I got to Froedtert they gave me a 10 percent chance to live," Frederick said.

Frederick beat those odds, but 70 percent of his brain was damaged. He fractured ten vertebrae, and had 28 breaks on the right side of his face. He also doesn't remember much from the accident or the weeks that followed.

"I was so lucky that day had I had my skull not had broken the way that it did, I would have died and if life flight hadn't come in I would have died," Frederick said.

Frederick joined a large crowd on Saturday to celebrate 30 years of Flight For Life. The group was made up of former patients, and former and current Flight For Life crew members, among others. In that time span, FOX6 News is told they've transported about 33,000 patients -- and changed lives like Frederick's forever.

"It's not just the speed of the helicopter, but it really is the intensive clinical expertise of the people on board. You know they go through and learn over 100 policies and procedures that they're ready to do immediately," said Claire Rayford, a former chief flight nurse.

FOX6 News was there as Frederick got to meet one of the flight nurses who rescued him two years ago.

"It's kind of like a piece of the puzzle that's been missing. For two years I've wondered you know who was it who was there that day? To finally be able to meet them which is part of why I came today is I mean, it's a big deal," Frederick said.

The group is having three separate celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary. The final gathering is set for September 28th, in Crystal Lake, Illinois.