It was likely the largest gathering of emergency workers since the car crash in October 2016 that critically injured Elias and Kirsten Strebe. But this gathering was much different. The Strebe family asked all the first responders to come back to Salem, Missouri, to meet the kids whose lives they helped save.
“This is the first time I’ve had a family member of the patient we’ve flown actually contact us and have us come back to meet that patient,” said Brian McCart, Mercy Life Line pilot. “To get that gratitude and thanks means a lot. It’s awesome to see that I had a part in assisting them continue living and progress and get better.”
Julie Strebe says her children are walking miracles. At the time of the crash, officers on scene were worried the children wouldn’t survive. Both suffered traumatic brain injuries, but Julie credits their recovery to everyone on the scene for their teamwork and skills. “Because of these people, these first responders, the law enforcement, the emergency medical technicians, the flight crews and everyone else who was involved in their care – that’s the reason our kids are still here and we will be eternally grateful for that.”
Both children are still recovering. Elias’ physical injuries have healed, but he has been dealing with aphasia, which is an inability to form words. His brain injury also affected his reading and math abilities, but he continues to improve.
Kirsten is managing short- term memory loss, which makes it easy for her to get confused and forget where she’s going. Despite that, she just completed her first semester of college and achieved a 4.0 grade point average. She has complete hearing loss in her right ear, but may be a candidate for a cochlear implant soon.
“Without these people, I wouldn’t have been able to go off to college,” Kirsten said. “My brother wouldn’t have been able to succeed the way he does if it wasn’t for the teamwork between this group of people.”
The Strebe family handed out Christmas gifts to all the first responders, and the Mercy Life Line crew had a few gifts in return, including a helicopter ride the kids could actually enjoy. They took a short tour over their hometown before arriving safely back on the ground.
When the job gets tough, the Strebes want this group of first responders to know it’s all worth it. “I hope they will look back on today and know that the job they’re doing is saving lives and making a difference in people’s lives,” Julie said. “Because of their abilities – that is what saved our kids.”
Mercy Springfield Communities is comprised of Mercy Hospital Springfield, named in the 100 Top Hospitals®; an orthopedic hospital; a rehab hospital; a children’s hospital; five regional hospitals in Lebanon, Aurora, Cassville, Mountain View, Missouri and Berryville, Arkansas; and Mercy Clinic, a physician clinic with nearly 700 doctors and locations throughout the region. It is part of Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2016 by Truven, an IBM company, that serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.