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Emergency rescue personnel celebrate the recovery of 8-year-old New Berlin girl who survived deadly crash

April 21, 2014

Dozens of emergency responders from around Lake Country gathered to celebrate the recovery of 8-year-old Amie Rindt, seven months after they helped rescue her from a terrible car accident on Highway 16 in Nashotah. There wasn't a dry eye in the firehouse as Amie, her brother Sam, 6, and their father, Nick walked slowly into the bay of Lake County Fire and Rescue Station in Delafield on April 5.

"This celebration is about Amie and her family. It's truly an amazing miracle. People don't often survive these types of traumatic injuries. We're all so grateful to be able to meet Amie and her family again under better circumstances," said Capt. Nick Heltemes of Lake County Fire and Rescue.

On a gloomy Sunday afternoon last September, emergency crews were dispatched to the scene of the deadly head-on collision involving two vehicles that took the lives of Oconomowoc resident Glenda Skalecki and her mother, Karen Gulley.

"The scene was so large. I remember thinking, 'Where do we start; how do we fix this situation?' But we all worked together, and it was a miracle. I never thought I'd be here today, and I'm so grateful to be a part of this celebration," said Lt. Thom Moerman of the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

Nick Rindt of New Berlin sustained minor injuries and his son, Sam, suffered a broken rib from the collision. Amie, who was 7 at the time of the accident, was transported to Children's Hospital by the Flight for Life helicopter. Her story of survival and ongoing recovery has touched the lives of many.

Grim scene

After performing a quick medical triage, the first emergency responders discovered Amie, lifeless in her booster seat with her head slumped down and her skin ashen.

"When we first arrived on the scene, we didn't know what to expect. The little girl didn't have a pulse, and we immediately started CPR. I am so grateful for our training. You don't think about it; you just do what you have to do. I'm just happy everyone is OK. To see Amie again after what she went through is awesome," said Scott Surges, firefighter/emergency medical technician from Lake County Fire and Rescue.

According to a news release from Lake County Fire and Rescue, Amie's survival and recovery after such a traumatic injury is rare, with only a 4 percent chance that resuscitation would be successful.

Survival story

"This is a great story about survival. The reason why we are all here today to meet this family and celebrate such a positive outcome is due to the efforts of emergency responders from Stone Bank, Hartland, Okauchee, Lake Country Fire and Rescue, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department and the 911 dispatch center. It doesn't matter what is says on the side of our vehicles; we all worked together to help rescue this little girl and her family," said Lake Country Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Edwards during the ceremony.

"Amie was in a medically induced coma and slept through her 8th birthday. She spent seven weeks in ICU and was finally released on Dec. 23," explained her grandmother, Shirley Rindt of New Berlin. "The impact from the accident caused her head to snap so far forward that her brain stem stretched away from her spinal cord. We were told she was technically dead at the scene."

Amie has endured 14 medical procedures and is slowly recovering from her traumatic brain injury, but is back in school at Ronald Reagan Elementary School in New Berlin. During the celebration, she presented a handmade card to her rescuers that reads, "Thank you for saving my life because I could've died, you know. I couldn't survive without you."

"Today brings back a lot of emotions, but I am so grateful our family is whole. I met the men who started CPR on Amie and brought her back. They were the beginning of a positive outcome. Without the efforts of all of these people, Amie wouldn't be here right now," added Shirley, wiping away tears.

During the event, Amie and her brother, Sam, were able to meet all of the emergency personnel involved with their rescue and received a personal tour of the fire station and rescue apparatus. The Flight for Life helicopter also made an appearance, landing in the baseball field next to the station. Amie and Sam were given a tour of the helicopter by flight medic John Emerson.

Emerson has been a working with Flight for Life for the past 19 years. "It was quite an accident on a busy highway. We all worked so well together; it's nice to know we have such great partners on the ground," said Emerson. "We transport a lot of people, and we never get to see them again. We see a lot of hurt, and it's pretty neat to have the chance to celebrate something positive with this family."

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