MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The parents of a paramedic who was critically injured in a head-on collision involving an ambulance say their son is improving.
Thirty-year-old Brian Nagel was helping transport a patient in an Allina ambulance in Buffalo Township on Jan. 18 when a SUV hit them head on, critically injuring Nagel and EMT Tim Daly who was driving the ambulance.
When Jill and Terry Nagel first saw their son at the hospital after his accident, they were numb.
“I don’t think I thought anything,” Jill Nagel, Brian’s mother, said. “I was almost caught between two worlds. I was just, here.”
Brian was in a coma and his right eye was swollen slightly outside his head.
“I didn’t know if he would be paralyzed, it was a tough moment,” said Terry Nagel, Brian’s father.
Five days later, Brian finally responded to doctors.
Then, there was another complication. Bone fractures were beginning to crush his eye. Doctors had to operate, opening his skull in order to save his vision.
“Before we had a breath, there he is, in surgery,” Jill said. “He’s pretty much not able to open it and if he does, it’s like looking through a Coke bottle.”
Yet despite his injuries and the setbacks, Brian has made progress. On Monday, he was in stable condition and moved to a rehab wing of North Memorial Hospital where he’s relearning speech and movement.
Still, through it all, he has never lost his sense of humor.
“He took me into the bathroom, locked me in and said ‘Dad, I’m out of here but I promise I’ll come back for therapy,'” Terry said, with a laugh.
It’s not clear when Brian will be able to go home, but when he does he wants to save more lives, even after being the one that needed to be saved.
“With everything people feel about him, I think he’ll have an opportunity to step up to another level that he never thought possible, that’s what we’re hoping,” Terry said.
Daly was released from the hospital for his injuries, but was told to expect up to three months or so living from a wheelchair.
The driver of the SUV, Marilyn Paumen, died of her injuries.
Brian Nagel has a Caring Bridge website where his family posts updates on his recovery, which can be viewed here.