Roger Torres, RN

As long as I can remember, I felt like I belonged to the Ryder Trauma Center family; long before I knew anyone in it and I could truly comprehend the honor it entailed. What I didn’t know was that there would come a day that my own life would need saving. That chance encounter with the Ryder Trauma staff and the care they provided reinforced my aspiration of calling Ryder Trauma home. It’s where I needed to be.

I have been a registered nurse for 13 years, and can still remember the sound of air rescue landing at Ryder Trauma, while I sat in a classroom in nursing school just across the street at Miami Dade College - Medical Campus. The sound of the helicopter blades whipping away was an adrenaline rush for me. On many occasions, I would leave the classroom to run down the hall and catch a glimpse of the elite trauma team. I was mesmerized by them.

They would come out of these electronic doors, all uniformly dressed in green scrubs, carefully and calmly remove their patient from the chopper and disappear back inside – all of this in a matter of seconds. I was always left wondering what would transpire inside. On nights out, I would find myself driving by the Ryder Trauma building, pausing a moment to reflect on it, what it meant, what it stood for, and thinking to myself, “One day, I will make it in there.”

When I graduated nursing school, I immediately transitioned from an emergency room tech to a surgical ICU and emergency room nurse. I progressed in my career as a rotor-wing flight nurse, caring for critically ill adult and pediatric patients. I always maintained the goal of making it into the Ryder Trauma Resuscitation Unit as a nurse.

On my way home from work one morning, I was involved in a life-threatening car accident. Fire Rescue managed to get me out of the car using the “Jaws of Life.” I was unresponsive and airlifted to Ryder Trauma. Once there, I was in and out of consciousness, hemorrhaging from a ruptured bladder and an artery tear, which caused my body to go into shock. My life was on the line and my family didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive.

At that moment, as I faded in and out, I had my first real glimpse of what happened behind those electronic doors but not in the way I had always imagined. I had arrived, but as a patient, not a nurse as I had aspired.

I was rushed into surgery, and after six hours, I was transferred to the recovery unit.

I’ve been working at the Ryder Trauma for four years now, and I am still stunned that I was able to make a life-long dream of mine come true. Being a part of this team is both awe-inspiring and humbling.

As the Ryder Trauma celebrates its 25th anniversary, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of this elite group. I’m thankful to the dedicated medical team at Ryder Trauma that saved my life – people who I now proudly work alongside saving the lives of others.