I have been asked to share my story of my accident to solidify the need and necessity of HALO rescue air ambulance service in rural areas of Alberta. For those of us living in these areas, it is important to have this service, as time is of the most importance. We live and work out of the area of the other helicopter air ambulance service. For me and my family, this was the difference between life and death.
We are a water well and drilling service company in Bow Island, Alberta. I am Paul Schaufele. The Monday morning started as any workday – talked about the procedure of the Well cleaning project, loaded supplies, fuelled trucks, did safety for the rig and hooked up the trailer. After picking up lunch, the rig and the service truck headed out of the yard. The trip was uneventful – no traffic and only dust from the road. I kept looking out my side view mirror to make sure the two trucks were together. My associate, Joe, was just out of the dust. He was back but still coming. The road was dry and smooth – for a gravel road. As we approached twp 90 going north on RR 103 the front passenger tire on the rig blew. The fiberglass hood over the engine exploded into pieces and blocked the windshield. Dust was coming from the rim in the gravel. I could feel the truck pull to the right and I was going for a ride. I let off the throttle and held the steering wheel straight. I remember going off the road then realizing I was flipping. When the dust settled I was pinned in the cab. The whole rig had flipped onto the derrick. The motor was running. Joe came looking for me. In talking with Joe later he said I shut the motor off or ran it out of fuel being upside down. He called 911 and now we wait. Emergency response teams showed up and a plan was made to get me released. I remember talking to Kent Unruh most of the time. He was with me at or in the cab. HALO rescue was dispatched and arrived and waited as this was an evacuation to a hospital – namely Medicine Hat Regional. The rig had to be stabilized for the safety of the workers and also prevented more injury to me. By the time the lumber arrived and then placed I was cut out of the cab, over 2 hours had passed. I remember pleading with Kent to cut whatever he needed to do to release me. The emergency people followed their plan and I was released. I looked to see how the rig made out and then talked to Betty and was loaded into the HALO helicopter. I don’t remember much until 3 days later in Calgary. I believe it was a 14-minute flight to the hospital not 45 minutes by ground transportation depending on the conditions. I found out later I just about didn’t survive the flight to Medicine Hat hospital. My pilot Steve and paramedic Amanda were with me on that flight. Those minutes saved and the knowledge and skill of Amanda contributed to saving my life. It was at the open house of the additional bigger HALO helicopter that I was introduced to these people. Logan is a paramedic who was waiting at the hospital for us. It was my pleasure to talk with them and thank them for what they did for me and my family.
Because of the vision of many individuals forming the HALO rescue service, I was a beneficiary of this service. Without them and the emergency response teams would not be here today. I didn’t realize how extensive my injuries were. With the skill of the different medical centers personal and the grace of God giving me back my life, I am here today. Many people were praying for me and Betty and my family. I have been given a second opportunity to experience life. I don’t know why I was spared but I’m thankful to the Lord for that. I’m still part of God’s team of imperfect servants. I want to say “thank you” to the emergency response people from Bow Island and Burdett Fire Department, family friends who helped Betty both at the scene and at the hospital in Medicine Hat, as well as the RCMP and the Halo rescue service and then the final transport to Foothills Medical Center from Medicine Hat Hospital by Canwest fixed-wing service. I also want to say thank you for the medical staff at Medicine Hat Hospital for stabilizing me so I could be transported to Foothills Medical Center and the doctors and nurses and staff there. I was released from Foothills Medical Center 25 days later. I also want to say thank you to my associate Joe, Brenton, Brad, Jim and others for getting the salvage to our yard. Joe also did an environmental cleanup as we spilled diesel fuel and oil from the hydraulics and chemical we were going to use on our project. I benefited from his experience and knowledge of spill clean up and disposal because of his work in the oil patch.
I have some pictures for you of the accident and the people and equipment that have helped me get to where I am today.
Recovery is happening. I am facing a new normal which is sometimes hard to accept. It is slow but happening. My doctors in Calgary are amazed at how far I have come in recovery as the outcome could have been very different. The Lord truly is gracious, and kind and good to me and my family. What the plan the Lord has for me I don’t know, but am excited to be part of that.