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Noah's Story - Critical Care Transport

It had rained in the hours after the July fireworks display at the farm of Noah Riley’s friend. So it came as a surprise to everyone helping clean up the debris when a shell and mortar style firework exploded as Noah, 15, pulled it from the ground.

“My initial thought was that it was like a flash-bang, and I couldn’t see anything,” says the Pleasant Hill High School sophomore. “Then when I could see, I couldn’t make out what had happened.”

Noah thinks he might have gone into shock, leaving him confused but calm and, oddly, not feeling any pain in his right hand which was grievously injured. 

Within minutes, his friend’s dad applied a tourniquet and his own father, Tim Riley, arrived to drive him to Children’s Mercy Kansas in Overland Park. A medical team there quickly lined up Dr. Christine J. Cheng, an orthopedic hand surgeon, to do surgery at the main campus of Children’s Mercy.

Then Noah and his mother April Riley were loaded into a Children’s Mercy Critical Care Transport ambulance and on their way to Children’s Mercy Adele Hall campus.

Noah doesn’t remember much about that ride, except that one of the crew members asked him if he had any music requests. 

Yes. Country, please, he responded. 

“I thought that was very kind and thoughtful, because they had a lot of other stuff going on at that time,” he says. “They were super sweet.” 

Turns out, Noah had a conversation with the crew about his passion for football and raising and showing cattle. But he doesn’t remember it because of the potent pain medications he was on.

Meanwhile, his mother was with Katherine Murphy, EMT, in the front cab.

“I don’t remember what we talked about, but she was just so kind,” recalls April. “Her demeanor … everything about her was so kind and empathetic. She knew how to do everything right in that moment, with a mother who was so incredibly scared and not knowing what was going on and what the future of her kid would be. She put me at ease. It was a really lovely thing.”

Noah came away from the ordeal missing the middle finger and small parts of the index and ring fingers on his right hand. He also has scar damage that limits his movement. 

“Right now, I’m in physical therapy and doing really well,” he says. 

Noah missed football season and showing his prize cattle at the American Royal this year.

But don’t count the tough and optimistic kid out.

He can already catch a football and recently began working his cattle again. He plans to be back on the gridiron and show circuit in 2020.


Learn more about Critical Care Transport at Children's Mercy