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LifeLine's impact felt years later by family

Holly Dishman joins her son, Landon, in getting an up-close look at an IU Health LifeLine Helicopter Wednesday at Marlatt Field. It was part of a celebration event that brought the Dishman family together to thank LifeLine officials, who helped save a then two-year-old Landon who had suffered serious injuries in a fall.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Landon Dishman earned some red ribbons showing his goats Tuesday at the Henry County 4-H Fair. The ribbons, while nice, paled in comparison to the mere fact that he was able to participate at all.

Eleven years ago this month, Dishman, then two years old, fell 10 feet from a hay mound in a family barn onto a concrete floor. Had it not been for a LifeLine Helicopter, he might not be here today.

After watching Landon show his goats, the Dishman family turned its attention to the LifeLine heroes, meeting with officials from the highly acclaimed IU Health service in a unique event to celebrate what they do and reflect on the miracle that happened on July 11, 2008.

“He was unconscious and never opened his eyes until 72 hours later,” Landon’s mom, Holly, remembered. “We were sitting in front of a computer screen with an image of his brain and the doctor basically said, ‘if he does survive, he will pretty much be 99 percent dependent on you. It was a pretty helpless feeling.”

Brandon Dishman, Landon’s dad, was out baling hay on the family farm, located in rural Spiceland, about 1.5 miles south of I-70, when he got the call about the accident.

“I thought well, he may have bumped a knee or maybe broken a bone,” Brandon said. “We just kept baling. Ninety seconds goes by and my phone rings again. The words I heard were ‘This is bad.’”

But thanks to the skillful, positive and compassionate work of the LifeLine crew, Landon was receiving critical care within minutes at an Indianapolis hospital. Holly, fearing her son would die before ever getting to Indianapolis, said she would never forget the encouraging words from a flight nurse at the scene.

“She said ‘you kiss your little boy and tell him you will see him in Indianapolis,’” Holly said Wednesday through tears. “I have never forgotten her.”

Landon said Wednesday he doesn’t remember much about that day. But Holly said a conversation when Landon was almost five years old gives her goose bumps yet today.

“I was in the bathroom and he was almost five,” Holly recalled. “He looked at me as dead serious as he could and said ‘Mommy, are angels real?’ 

“I said, ‘why?’”

“He said ‘I saw them on the heli-Kok-ter.”

The way Landon said the word helicopter then was indicative of the challenges he has faced since the accident. Speech delays were just part of the hours and hours of therapy he endured after the fall. It has been a long climb – but this time, Landon didn’t fall. He continues to climb still, as evidenced by his efforts with the 4-H goats on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to say life is easy,” Holly said. “It’s not. But I can’t imagine life without him.”

Wednesday’s event, hosted by the recently opened New Castle LifeLine helicopter base at Marlatt Field, was as thrilling for the crew here as it was for the Dishman family.

“LifeLine employees said how wonderful it was to attend this, because they don’t normally get to see the outcome after taking somebody by helicopter to the hospital,” said Judy Dishman, Landon’s grandma.

LifeLine’s newest air base was officially christened at Marlatt Field just last month. The New Castle-Henry County facility is now one of five official bases for LifeLine, joining facilities in Indianapolis, Columbus, Terre Haute and Lafayette.

LifeLine has transported more than 72,000 patients in its accident-free, 40-year history. Last year, LifeLine transported more than 18,000 patients. Officials say the New Castle base and crew have been well received by their new neighbors, already transporting many patients from both local hospitals and scene requests from local fire departments and EMS.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have this service available,” said Joe Dishman, Landon’s grandfather.

Wednesday’s event was made possible through the Dishman family’s relationship with one of the IU Health LifeLine nurses. Lana White, another grandmother of Landon’s, whom he affectionately calls her “mee-maw,” spent 23 years at Henry County Memorial Hospital working as a med tech.

Landon Dishman’s goats “Mabel and Charlie” were stars of the show for family members Wednesday at the fair. But the real heroes will always be Landon, who has survived a traumatic injury, and the people of IU LifeLine Helicopter, who were there to literally lift hopes and prayers along with an injured boy so he could spread his wings for greater things in the years to come.