ATV accident leads to collaborative emergency care.

Dacia Schnuelle
Dacia Schnuelle is treated following an ATV accident at the Winneshiek Medical Center ER.

Every Sunday, Dacia Schnuelle and her dad, Greg, jump on their 4-wheelers and ride the fields surrounding their rural-Ossian farm. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Greg went ahead of his daughter to the next field drive, but she never caught up with him. Dacia had hit a rut in the ground and was thrown from the 4-wheeler.

“I remember getting up with a bloody nose, but that seemed to be my only injury,” says Dacia. A nearby neighbor righted her 4-wheeler, and she drove the half-mile home.

“Mom didn’t think I looked right, and my parents kept asking me if I felt ok – I did, until my head started to ache a little and I began throwing up,” says Dacia. Greg and Darla called the emergency room at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, and following the nurse’s advice, brought their daughter in. “The doctors ordered CAT scans, and then decided I needed to be at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; I was air-lifted to St. Marys Hospital,” says Dacia.

Dacia’s aunt and uncle quickly joined the Schnuelles, and the medical center staff welcomed them and their support for the family. Darla says, “I, of course, hoped to ride in the helicopter with my daughter, but Greg and I had to go by car.” Greg’s sister stayed with Dacia at Winneshiek Medical Center to wait for the helicopter, and her husband drove the nervous parents to Rochester. Darla adds, “While we were on the road, I remember seeing the helicopter arriving, then saw it pass back over us again. I knew she was in there; I watched my little girl until the helicopter disappeared behind the trees.”

Dacia suffered from bleeding on the brain and facial fractures as a result of the accident. She stayed in intensive care for one night, then moved to a pediatric unit for another day of observation. “I had a slight headache, and my face was swollen. I also had black eyes and lots of scrapes, but considering the severity of my injuries, never felt too bad,” says Dacia.

“The thought of my daughter being air-lifted was very scary,” says Darla. “The doctors and staff at WMC were kind and compassionate, and made Dacia’s experience less frightening. There were angels looking out for our little girl, and some of them were the staff at Winneshiek Medical Center.”

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