How crews got a lifesaving organ across town in Wednesday’s standstill storm traffic

From CVG to Cincy Children’s, it was a race against the clock to deliver a lung where it needed to go.
Police, first responders navigate weather, rush hour to save a life
Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 10:44 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Wednesday’s sudden snowfall came at the worst time for one local firefighter — and for the hospital patient awaiting the organ he was transporting.

The storm added insult to injury for a region unexpectedly pummeled with a foot of snow just days before. It snarled traffic, left many roads impassable and brought much of the Tri-State to a cold, breathless halt.

But firefighter Jason Baumann, on his first organ transplant delivery, couldn’t afford to stop.

“They told us, you know, most of these things happened in the middle of the night, so it’s a lot quicker drive. It’s not during rush hour. [It’s not] during a snow storm.”

Baumann’s cargo was a lung destined for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where a young patient was waiting for it.

His drive started at CVG. Quickly his progress slowed, worrying doctors half a city away.

“Traffic was horrible,” Baumann said. “The weather was horrible. Snow piled everywhere. We left at [5:05 p.m.] So it was at the height of rush hour.”

Often driving from the airport to Children’s takes about twenty minutes, give or take. On Wednesday?

“It was about an hour and five minutes to get there,” Baumann said.

And it would have taken longer had Baumann not asked for outside help.

Joe Stevens is with the Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Unit.

“In the midst of this blizzard, I received information that an organ was being transported from CVG, the airport, to Children’s Hospital, and they needed help escorting it through the traffic, stopped traffic, and the chaos that was last night,” Stevens said.

The same chaos that was keeping Baumann from Children’s also kept CPD from tracking him down.

“Burnet Avenue was gridlocked,” Baumann said. “Vine Street was gridlocked. Highland Avenue was gridlocked. We had to just figure out a route. We didn’t have communications with them either, that was the big thing. We found them. They found me. They fell in behind me and blindly followed as I led them to the hospital.”

Traffic officers say they provide police escorts often for dignitaries or professional sports teams, but this time was different. This time, they say, they understood the weight of the situation.

At last the organ got where it needed to go.

“It’s a great feeling,” Baumann said. “Great feeling, not just to make it safe, but just great that we helped a kid out who needed a transplant, and hopefully that transplant went well and that kid will lead a healthy life now.”

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