Flight For Life helps one of their own

NOW: Flight For Life helps one of their own

36,000 patients over 33 years. In that time, the people at Flight For Life have seen it all. CBS 58 News got an exclusive look at how it works and how one woman was saved thanks in part to their efforts.

"All I felt was a little bump, and I woke up and the front of my car is on my lap," said retired flight nurse Lisa Heinz.

Today, Heinz is alive and able to tell the story of what happened to her on September 15th, 1996 while on her way from working the night shift as a nurse. 

"Unfortunately I fell asleep driving home, and crossed the center line, and hit somebody head on," Lisa Heinz said. 

Heinz's car was mangled. "I could see my leg is broken because of how swollen it is, but I don't know my other injuries because I can't see the rest of my legs. I had an open fracture to the frontal sinus, so the front part of my face, a big huge laceration down my face, multiple facial fractures."

"She hit her face on the steering wheel so hard that the steering wheel bent inward around the column," said Deputy Jerry Post with the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.

That morning, Post was also heading home from work and rolled up on the crash. He ran to her car and didn't recognize her because her face was in such bad shape. "Then I saw the jumpsuit, then I realized who it was," Post said.

Heinz was a flight nurse for Flight For Life and ended up becoming a patient. She was rushed to the hospital. After two and a half weeks at Froedtert and many months of recuperating, she was able to return to work fulltime. 

"It's a very rewarding type job," said Flight For Life pilot Gene McDaniel.

McDaniel, a former airman, is one of the Flight For Life pilots.

McDaniel says it's a rewarding job and it was, too, for Lisa who just retired after 23 years. No doubt she'll remember Flight For Life, the doctors, nurses, and first responders who helped save her.

"I wanted to be the best part of somebody's worst day, and they were the best part of my worst day. Absolutely," Heinz said. 

Flight For Life can land in some very tight spaces. Some that are equal to 15 yards on a football field. Speeds can reach 140 miles per hour. That's like going from Kenosha to Froedtert Hospital in northwest Milwaukee in about 20 minutes. 

The driver of the second car involved in the crash only suffered minor injuries and recovered well.

For more information on Lisa Heinz's story click here.

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