Quick Thinking in an Emergency Saves 6-Year-Old

Emergency Department: ‘Everybody there treated him like he was a part of the family’

Samson Bright is a happy, social 6-year-old boy who loves hockey and enjoys spending time at the Latah County Fair.

So when he immediately turned quiet after a hockey accident during warm-ups at the Palouse Ice Rink last winter, his parents knew something was wrong.

Ashleigh and jerry bright

Ashleigh and Jerry Bright

“He stood up and immediately bent over and winced,” his father, Jerry Bright, said. “His face started to turn a little blue. I knew he was hurt.”

Jerry and Ashleigh Bright credit quick thinking by clinical staff in the Gritman Medical Center Emergency Department with saving young Samson’s life. Jerry initially thought his son suffered a cracked rib following the fall, but the frontline responders quickly determined the child needed more specialized care.

“It was amazing here that the nurse had a team of three or four people immediately taking off his gear. It was a rapid response,” Jerry said. “They had CT scans done and we were back in the ER room in a matter of 15 minutes.”

The team discovered Samson’s liver had been lacerated and sent for Life Flight to Spokane. In retrospect, the calm and collected manner in which clinical staff handled Samson’s case is what Jerry and Ashleigh are thankful for each day.

“The team, calmly and collectively, had the ability to communicate and deliver the appropriate care that Samson needed,” Jerry said. “They communicated with Spokane immediately. The doctor was out of the room because he was on the phone with other surgeons in Spokane.”

Samson underwent a blood transfusion within an hour of his arrival in Spokane, then additional treatment and monitoring for internal bleeding over the next 12 days.

“They saved his life,” Ashleigh said of the clinical teams that helped her son.

It was only a few days following his release, however, that Samson returned to the Emergency Department after spiking a fever.

“They did an ultrasound and saw there was some sort of leak happening,” Jerry said, enough so that it prompted the Emergency Department team to Life Flight Samson again to Spokane.

“The team, calmly and collectively, had the ability to communicate and deliver the appropriate care that Samson needed.” — Jerry Bright

The St. Mary’s kindergartner spent the next 13 weeks recovering in a Spokane hospital bed for what turned out to be a torn bile duct. Bile duct injuries in children are rare, and his parents said the Spokane surgeons had only seen two other cases like the one that impacted Samson.


While now fully recovered, he’s taking a break from hockey this season in favor of camping and bike rides. He’s excited to be in kindergarten this year. His favorite part of the playground is the curly slide.

The Brights are forever grateful to the quick-thinking team in the Gritman Emergency Department for catching the seriousness of the injury in such a swift manner. The family also credits staff in Diagnostic Imaging and emergency transport crews for ensuring Samson can continue to enjoy childhood activities as simple as playing on a downtown Moscow playground.

“Everybody there treated him like he was part of the family,” Jerry said.

“Despite how busy they were, it was like this boy was top priority,” Ashleigh added.

In addition to the team at Gritman, the Brights are thankful for the Palouse Youth Hockey Association and St. Mary’s Parish School for helping marshal gas cards, money for hotel stays, toys and gifts.

Ashleigh said the organizations made sure the family was supported both financially and spiritually throughout the healing process.

“I have never seen such an outpouring of support,” she said.

Samson’s recovery requires quite a few follow-up lab visits, all of which can be taken care of locally at Gritman – keeping Samson close to his community and his loved ones close to him.

”We know how they’re always working and they’re ready to do the same for other people,” Jerry said. “We think about them a lot.”

Pictured at top: Ashleigh and Jerry Bright of Potlatch credit the Gritman Medical Center Emergency Department with saving the life of their son, Samson, on two occasions after the 6-year-old suffered a liver laceration in a hockey accident.


Read more Gritman stories at gritman.org/connections.