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State troopers, LifeNet team up to get life-saving medicine 540 miles from Omaha to Colorado

Lt. Matt Sutter of the Nebraska State Patrol got a late-night call on his cell with an urgent request.

A children’s hospital in Colorado needed a hard-to-find life-saving medicine for a patient, and an Omaha hospital had it.

Could the patrol help get the medicine 540 miles to Colorado — fast?

Sutter said the medicine couldn’t be flown there because of stormy weather in eastern Nebraska. He didn’t get the call until 10 p.m. Tuesday, so it was too late for a commercial flight.

So Sutter put a plan in motion that called for a relay involving seven Nebraska troopers and an airplane pilot.

Taylor Wilson, spokesman for the Nebraska Medical Center, said Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, a Denver suburb, requested the medicine. He said the medicine, which is typically used to treat brain infections caused by parasites, can be difficult to find but the medical center had some.

The Nebraska Medical Center asked the patrol for help.

Sutter said the patrol has helped hospitals deliver blood supplies and organs for transplants over the years. But this week’s medicine transport was the longest distance and the shortest time frame he’s aware of, he said.

"We felt that given the circumstances, it was the right thing to do," he said.

The relay started with an Omaha trooper picking up the medicine at the Nebraska Medical Center in midtown Omaha about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday. The trooper then drove Interstate 80 west to the Platte River, where another trooper took the hand-off and drove the medicine to a trooper in York County.

A similar relay continued to North Platte.

When the medicine arrived in North Platte, a plane was waiting. Sutter had arranged for LifeNet, a private air medical service in North Platte to fly the medicine to Centennial, Colorado, a Denver suburb.

An official with LifeNet said it flew the medicine for free as a community service.

A trooper with the Colorado State Patrol drove the medicine from the airport in Centennial to Children’s Hospital Colorado, 14 miles away in Aurora.

Sutter said the transport from Omaha to the Colorado hospital took about five hours.

An official with the Colorado hospital said she was unable to comment because of patient privacy regulations.

Sutter said the Nebraska State Patrol was glad it could help with the delivery, but emphasized it was a team effort.

"Everybody we contacted understood the urgency,” he said. "It was truly all hands on deck."

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