FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Our lives can change in a split second, and in an emergency, every second counts.

When one young valley man was accidentally shot in the neck and flown to Community Regional Medical Center, he says his emergency flight nurses were able to give him blood on the way to the hospital and saved his life. 

In May of 2023, Brian Zumaya and his friends were at a shooting range near Bass Lake. They all had CCW licenses and Brian says he was helping his friends set up targets. 

“Started looking at targets to put them up and in a matter of seconds it just (snaps).”

Zumaya was shot in the neck by an accidental discharge.

His friends immediately called 911. Local paramedics arrived to help Brian until the air ambulance flew in to transport him to the community regional to receive a higher level of care. 

“We had gotten a call for a GSW, a gunshot wound, up in Oakhurst.” 

Brian Carnes is one of the flight paramedics with skylife air methods who flew in alongside flight nurse Alexis Masson to transport Zumaya to the hospital. 

“I opened the back of the ambulance doors and I see this young kid sitting in the back.”

“He was still awake; he was actually talking to us. He was able to communicate.”

“I remember holding someone’s hand. I don’t know, like bracing kind of, hoping that I wouldn’t lose strength.”

“We were able to reassure him he would be okay, and that we were going to help take care of him.”

The skylife team prepared to fly Brian to Community Regional Medical Center, the only level-one trauma center in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“As we fly up there, we will typically start calculating drugs because we don’t usually get a full report of what we are about to walk into.”

“He did have an airway compromise. Plus, there were the internal injuries that were also compromising his circulation.”

Brian and Alexis had to intubate Zumaya to help him breathe and gave him blood to help maintain his levels as they were flying to the hospital in downtown Fresno.

“And, it’s really just you and your partner, whether it’s another nurse or a flight paramedic, and it’s on you guys to make these sometimes life-altering decisions.” 

Because of skylife’s quick response and the blood transfusion received in the air, Zumaya was still alive when he arrived to community regional and was rushed into trauma.

“He came in via SkyLife, which is our air transport, and actually en route, they were able to intubate him prior to him getting to us.”

“They give us a report, and transfer him over to us in our trauma bay.”

Doctor Andrew Cox was the emergency medicine physician that led the trauma team when Zumaya arrived.

“Having access to blood, especially in cases like his where he did have an injury to one of his arteries in his neck from that gunshot wound. Without the ability to do something what we call massive transfusion protocol, a lot of these cases, including Brian’s would likely not survive.”

Having access to blood products is crucial for hospitals to save lives in cases like these, but once Zumaya was stable again, he would need to undergo extensive physical and speech therapy

“I learned how to swallow again there, how to walk, how to talk.” 

After spending 20 days in the hospital, Brian is now home and working towards getting back to living his life, once again. 

“Every patient that comes through this door is suffering in some aspect of the word the worst day of their life.”

 “Before all of this, you just kind of see a building. Ya know, like a hospital. You don’t really think of the stories that people could be going through.”