For the last 25 years, the Bedouin Shriners have averaged less than one air ambulance trip per year. The air ambulance is used to fly a critically burned or injured child from eastern Oklahoma to the Shrine’s Galveston or Cincinnati burn centers or its Chicago spinal injury research hospitals.
Since January, the Bedouin Shriners, headquartered in Muskogee, have flown four burn accident patients and one spinal cord injury child for a total of five in the first five months of the year.
On Jan. 8, a 4-year-old was badly burned while watching his dad burn a trash pile. This child was flown to Hillcrest in Tulsa and then transferred to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston by air. Three weeks later, two boys were playing with gasoline in a garage outside of McAlester and one was severely burned. The child was flown to Hillcrest and then flown by air ambulance to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, which specializes in burn treatments.
This spring, a young student and athlete in Muskogee suffered a spinal injury in an accident and was flown to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago, which specializes in spinal injuries and research. The week of May 20, two children were critically burned in another trash fire accident in Haskell. This brother and sister were again flown to Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston and are receiving life-saving care.
“Each air ambulance averages approximately $10,000 per flight,” Mike Brawley, Potentate of the Bedouin Shrine, said in a media release. “Shriners Hospital for Children and Bedouin Shriners provide all of these services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. We have totally spent the proceeds from our 2013 Shrine Classic Basketball tournament to cover these costs. We are now dipping and have quickly depleted our reserves to cover the remaining flights. It is vitally important for the public to support our fund raising efforts like the Classic, Poker Run and Golf Tournaments and all of our fund raising efforts through the year. These fundraisers happen all over eastern Oklahoma from Pryor to Durant and points in between.”
Bedouin Shrine Hospital Chairman Jim Ritchey and Treasurer Mark Hamrick work with the public on items such as wills, trusts and gifts for endowed money for transporting children to any of the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children as well as scheduling all the follow-up visits and trips to our hospitals and clinics.
“We all need to be very careful and keep safety a priority especially while burning trash and we usually have a accident happen during the months of June and July due to the holidays and Fourth of July,” Ritchey said in the release. “So be very careful.”
For more information call the Bedouin Shrine at (918) 682-2761.