In 1976, James K Styner, an orthopaedic surgeon from Lincoln, USA, crash-landed his light aircraft into a field in rural Nebraska. Styner’s family was with him in the plane. His wife died instantaneously. Three of his four children were knocked unconscious by the impact. The fourth, Chris, fractured his forearm bones. Styner himself fractured his facial bones and ribs.
Styner provided his children what little care he could at the crash site. He and Chris extricated the unconscious children, walked to the nearby road and flagged down a passing car. They got the children into the car and rushed them to a hospital in the nearest town, only to find it closed. Styner contacted the doctor and got it opened, but found to his dismay that the place was poorly equipped, and its personnel inexperienced. He was particularly horrified to see his unconscious children being moved without neck protection, a potential cause of irreparable spinal cord injury. He finally called a colleague in Lincoln who arranged for a helicopter to shift them all to a hospital there.
On returning to Lincoln, Styner could not forget the rural hospital. He said, “When I can provide better care in the field with limited resources than my children and I received at the primary facility, there is something wrong with the system and it has to be changed.”