Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Dwight Pruitt Contractor Back in Wichita After Fall From Helicopter

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 18, 2011

By Deb Gruver at The Wichita Eagle

Dwight Pruitt doesn’t remember anything about the day he fell 15 feet off a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, crushing his skull and breaking his body.

But if he could, he’d realize what a long journey he took to Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital in Wichita.

The sheet metal mechanic originally from Riverdale, north of Wellington, had been working as a military contractor for six years when he fell. He’d survived mortar attacks at Joint Base Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, and the landscape of war.

What nearly ended his life was a simple fall that could have happened anywhere.

Pruitt, 65, worked on Black Hawks repairing cracks. He fell off one Dec. 13 or 14 —he’s not sure exactly when.

He knows that he landed on his head on concrete.

“It didn’t flex much when I hit it,” he joked about the concrete.

He knows that he was flown to Afghanistan, where doctors relieved swelling on his brain. Then, he woke up in Germany. He couldn’t talk. His first communication was squeezing a doctor’s hand and wiggling his toes.

“They treated me like I was solid gold,” he said of the doctors at the military hospital.

Meanwhile, a medical team at Via Christi worked to get Pruitt home.

The logistics, wrote Via Christi dispatcher Becky Garwood in an e-mail, involved several communications between Via Christi doctors and Pruitt’s doctors in Germany, a transfer nurse coordinator in Canada and Via Christi’s nursing and bed placement staff, and a Canadian flight service dispatcher and flight service and customs workers at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Pruitt’s flight stopped in Iceland and Ontario.

A transport team from Via Christi met him at Mid-Continent when he landed in Wichita.

“This was in every way an international effort, involving a hospital in Germany and a flight service from Canada,” Garwood said. “It was complicated by weather delays and a very long overnight flight originating in Saarbrucken, Germany.” Pruitt arrived at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis on Dec. 23 and then was admitted to the rehabilitation hospital on North Rock Road on Dec. 28.  Please read the entire story here

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