Around 7:15 a.m. Sept. 12, 2019, Richey Brantley of Columbus was headed home on his motorcycle from North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point, where he works as a paramedic and his wife Gwen works as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department. He planned to change clothes and meet a friend to ride motorcycles to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As he was traveling south, a car turned in front of him. “I struck the car head on and went over the handlebars, landing on the hood and then over the back of the car and landing on the street,” Richey recounts from what others have told him.
Richey was transported by ambulance to NMMC’s Emergency Department in Tupelo. Tests confirmed he had suffered a traumatic brain injury, torn rotator cuff and fractures to his skull, face, spine, wrist, shoulder and pelvis. As he was being sedated for surgery to repair the pelvic fracture, his blood pressure plummeted, and the surgery plan was revised to simply place an external fixator to the right side of his pelvis. He spent two days in NMMC’s Critical Care Unit before orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Karl Van Osten attempted to repair his pelvis again.
During his second surgery, Richey’s oxygen level dropped. Dr. Van Osten quickly repaired what he could but had to quickly get Richey out of surgery. “I spent the next three-and-a-half weeks in NMMC’s Critical Care Unit on the ventilator,” Richey says. “From what I have been told, it was not looking good for me to live.” As he started improving, doctors began to bring him out of a medically-induced coma. Once he was sufficiently recovered, Richey was transferred to NMMC’s Critical Care Stepdown Unit and then to NMMC-West Point for Swing Bed care.
“Upon arrival at West Point the cobwebs began clearing out of my head and I started remembering from that point forward,” Richey says. “I started therapy at West Point and became a little stronger. My wife has been a huge help; she never left my side from the day of the accident. She is absolutely a godsend.” After three weeks, he was released from the hospital with home health therapy. Richey took his first steps since the accident on Dec. 13, 2019. He transitioned to Outpatient Rehabilitation at NMMC-West Point on Jan. 10. He was able to return to work as a paramedic at NMMC-West Point on Feb. 24 and as a deputy for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department on March 9.
“My pelvis is not perfect and never will be, but I am alive because of God and his mercy,” Richey says. “I have so many people to thank, but first and foremost I want to thank my wife, my children, my family, my true friends and Dr. Van Osten.”