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Welcome Home, Linda

After a week in the ICU and another week recovering at UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Linda Radtke signs herself out of UVM in order to go Fanny Allen for physical and occupational therapy for another week before heading home to Middlesex. Photo by Heidi Broner.
All of us at The Bridge are thrilled to learn that our beloved board member (and frequent contributor on these pages), Linda Radtke, returned home to Middlesex on April 10 after a horrific ordeal that started three weeks ago. Linda has given me permission to tell her story, which has been regularly updated on a CaringBridge website by her closest friends and her husband, Bob Jervis.

Nobody, not even Linda, knows exactly what happened the night of March 17 (Linda has no memory of that night), but we do know that Linda’s car got badly stuck in the mud on Center Road in Middlesex, and she called for a tow that never came. Her husband Bob was home sick with a fever at the time, but he also called for a tow. Eventually, seven hours later, around 4:00 a.m., someone reported an abandoned vehicle to the police. The upshot is, Bob wrote on CaringBridge, that Auto Clinic’s Matthew Collins arrived to find Linda hanging half in/half out of the car, facedown in the mud, feet tangled in the steering wheel, unresponsive, hypothermic, and barely breathing.  

Collins was unable to move her by himself, but he called for an ambulance and rested Linda’s face on a rubber mat so at least she was no longer inhaling mud. Along with the ambulance, which itself got stuck in the mud, the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department and Fast Squad arrived. Those first responders carried Linda to the stuck ambulance, and got it unstuck to boot.

According to Sarah Page on Linda’s CaringBridge page, Linda was then transported to the Central Vermont Medical Center emergency room in Berlin, where ER staff warmed her body from 77 degrees F to 88 degrees F before transporting her to the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, where she would spend most of the next three weeks. She spent the first week in the ICU sedated and on a ventilator while doctors treated her for the mud inhalation. A high point came on March 27, one of the first days after being taken off the ventilator. Her friend Heidi Bronner wrote on CaringBridge about how she and Bob visited, and Linda was feeling well enough to talk about recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. It was one of the first times since that first night that she saw her husband in person and was able to act more like herself. Two weeks of physical and occupational therapy later, her friends reported that she would be leaving the hospital, but still had many months of recovery ahead of her.

Linda is home now, and will understandably be taking a six-month break from her duties on the board of The Bridge while she recovers. If you’d like to read one of her most recent stories, see “Direct Trade, Fair Trade, Single Origin: Ethics and Central Vermont Coffee”, where Linda explores the various ethical offerings from a much bigger crew of coffee roasters than I ever knew existed in our neck of the woods.

The Bridge extends heartfelt thanks to the many people involved in Linda’s rescue, including above-mentioned Matthew Collins, plus Jeff Koonz, the assistant chief of the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department and Fast Squad, and first responder Bill Glennon (among the many others whose names we don’t know who rescued Linda that day). And we wish for a speedy and smooth recovery to Linda!