Flight paramedic Jaclyn Pickett doesn’t usually see the people she rescues after they recover.
But that changed Friday.
Pickett and three pilots from Maryland State Police’s Trooper 3 met up with patient Jon Goshorn Friday, a year after rescuing him following a logging accident in Pennsylvania. Trooper 3 is a Maryland State Police helicopter stationed in Frederick, which primarily performs medical evacuations, searches for missing persons and assists local law enforcement agencies.
The reunion at the Trooper 3 hangar at Frederick Municipal Airport allowed the troopers and Goshorn to catch up about his recovery since the accident and share stories about the day of the rescue.
“This is great. Everything just goes unnoticed or unthanked, and I think they deserve a lot more than what they get,” Goshorn said. “And this was just one incident.”
Goshorn, who has been working in logging for more than 23 years, was injured when a tree he cut down split and pinned him underneath it. His leg was nearly amputated, and he suffered four compound fractures in his leg: two in his shin, one just below his knee cap and one in his ankle.
The doctors at Winchester Hospital, where he was flown, said he wouldn’t walk for two years. But Goshorn is already fairly mobile with the help of a cane, just one year out from the accident.
“I guess it’s good I like proving people wrong,” he said.
Trooper 3 was called to the area by Goshorn’s co-workers at around 7:30 a.m. on April 2, 2020, after ground rescuers requested help. The evacuation would have to be from the air due to the topography of the valley.
Pickett, along with pilots Mike Haskins and Keith Blanton and flight paramedic Chris Aycock, traveled 44 miles to the site where Goshorn was stuck, deep in a valley.
Pickett went down on the hoist — a mechanism connected to the helicopter by a cable — and was lowered 240 feet down to Goshorn.
Once Pickett saw Goshorn, she realized the description she was provided of a “patient with a broken leg” was an understatement. He would need a lot of blood transfusions and required immediate attention. She requested an extraction from the helicopter with special equipment for Goshorn.
“[The location] made accessing him extremely difficult,” Pickett said. “It took us approximately an hour to get him packaged the way I needed to.”
Pickett stabilized him as much as she could before moving to a site suitable for extraction. Aycock hoisted her and Goshorn up from 250 feet above, which also proved difficult due to the location. Haskins said he had to get below the tree line in order to get the helicopter close enough to where Goshorn and Pickett were.
“I’m looking out at trees sideways, and I’m looking at how much clearance we have for the rotor blades... I came down about 40 feet, and that was as much as I was comfortable doing,” the pilot said.
The chopper had used most of its fuel getting into a position where Pickett could be hoisted, so the troopers took Goshorn to nearby Winchester Hospital in Virginia.
Goshorn said on Friday that he was in and out of consciousness for most of the flight, although he does remember being hoisted into the helicopter. He does remember Pickett organizing the rest of the crew and coordinating his care.
“I told her, ‘There’s people that do a job and there’s people that do it very well,’ and she’s one of those,” Goshorn said. “I’m just glad she was there that day.”
He stayed in the hospital for about 16 days. His 19th surgery is next Friday.
Pickett — who since last April has been with Trooper 5 — said she was shocked to hear that on top of Goshorn keeping his leg, he was already walking again. After hearing from Goshorn that it took 45 minutes for the rest of his logging crew to reach him and that he made a tourniquet out of one of his crewmate’s belts, she was even more shocked.
“It was unique in its own regard,” she said. “And then specifically to have someone that sick or that severe and be in that kind of distress and so isolated, definitely made it a challenging call.”
Haskins was also glad to catch up with Goshorn and see how he was doing.
“To be honest, I never get to follow up, and it’s great to hear [from them],” he said. “It gives you a sense of satisfaction. I love what I do, but seeing the results gives it that much more meaning.”
During the reunion on Friday, Aycock and Blanton had to respond to a call. They took the helicopter out of the hangar and got ready to take off. Goshorn’s family watched from the hangar as the crew prepared, much like they did the day he was rescued.
“Whoever it is,” Goshorn said, “they’re in good hands.”