Twice he survived thanks to medical helicopter

Published 11:50 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

David Banty of Capron will participate in a ceremony to christen the new Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance. Banty's life was saved twice after he was flown on a medical helicopter. -- SUBMITTED

NORFOLK—Twice David Banty’s life has been saved after he was flown by medical helicopter to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

For this distinction, the 76-year-old Capron man is one of a handful of former patients invited to the 9 a.m. Friday, July 22, christening for the new Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance.

“They saved my life twice,” Banty said. “I told them I would do anything to help promote them.”

Also invited is Katie Fletcher of Pasquotank County, N.C., who was in a near-fatal car wreck in which her father, Jason Fletcher, was a first responder. The two will share their story.

As for Banty, his first “ride” was in 1982 after he was hit in the rear of the head by a wave in Nags Head, N.C.

The then 47-year-old was in the ocean playing in the six-foot waves with his sons, when one asked him to take a surfboard to ashore. Just before Banty reached the beach, he got onto the surfboard to coast to ashore and was hit by the wave.

He was flown to Norfolk, where he remained hospitalized for five to six months, went through rehabilitation and regained his ability to walk.

This past March, Banty was on his lunch hour at J.T. Barham & Co. in Capron — where he has worked for 52 years — when he suffered a heart attack. Courtland Volunteer Rescue responded, and Banty was flown to the hospital in Norfolk where he underwent surgery for blockages.

“Twice they saved my life,” he said.

The christening will include smashing a bottle of sparkling cider on a skid of the new Nightingale, which was purchased with financial support from communities, corporations, foundations, Sentara employees and other individuals as part of the Saving Minutes, Saving Lives campaign conducted by the Sentara Health Foundation.

The ceremony will include an announcement of a fundraising milestone in the campaign to raise $3.5 million of the $7.2 million cost of the new helicopter, the first time Sentara went to the community for philanthropic support for Nightingale.