FRESNO, Calif. - Trauma survivors who received care at Community Regional Medical Center got to reunite with some of the staff who helped save their lives. The groups met at a luncheon on Saturday at the hospital.
This is the first time the trauma department has put on this sort of reunion. They said not only was this an opportunity for the patients to say thank you, but it also allowed for the medical staff to see their patients since they've healed.
For a man who was once declared dead for a short moment in time, being able to stand up and talk in front dozens of people is a big milestone. Nick Burriel was assaulted outside of the Elbow Room in Fresno three and half years ago. He was admitted to CRMS's trauma unit.
Burriel said, "There I flatlined for 25 minutes. And so from that, it knocked my brain for 25 minutes. Really affected me very much."
Burriel was one of two trauma survivors who spoke at CRMC's reunion luncheon. Kinser Coehlo was the other. Coehlo survived a serious car accident days after his high school graduation in Hanford in 2012.
"I feel asleep at the wheel, I'd say, less than a mile roughly from my house right before a stop light intersection. And fortunately enough, someone was at the stop light even though it was very, very late," stated Coehlo.
Both men suffered severe brain injuries, and spent months in the hospital. It was with the help of some of CRMC's doctors, nurses, and medical staff why they are alive and thriving today.
Burriel said, "I have a chance to tell them, thank you, and it's a job, but still, thank you for having that will in me and believing in me that I will still survive."
Chief of Trauma, Dr. James Davis, said the inaugural lunch is a not just a celebration of survival and life. He said, "It is an opportunity for the people who have survived a major trauma episode to come back reconnect with the staff; connect with their community of other survivors, and their families and be celebrated."
Coehlo said it's been wonderful to see all the staff that took care of him.
"I think this is awesome because I don't know about some of the other trauma survivors, but it's really good to reflect on stuff because you can learn from the past," ended Coehlo.
CRMC said they hope to continue this event next year.