Phillip Zonn has been on both sides of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center—as a police officer with Prince George’s County and as a patient. That perspective provided him with a clear picture of what he wanted to do when he had the opportunity of gifting a $2,500 donation from SERVPRO to a nonprofit organization of his choice.
Corporal Zonn was given the honor as a SERVPRO 2022 First Responder of the Year. In February 2022, he and another officer rescued an unconscious man from a car engulfed in flames. “For me, it all came full circle,” Cpl. Zonn shared. “I wouldn’t have been able to save this guy if the [R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center] hadn’t saved me.”
In July 2016, while riding his motorcycle to the Prince George’s barracks for the midnight shift, he was sideswiped by an automobile. The force of the impact flipped the driver’s car and sent him flying 33 feet into a ravine. “I landed unconscious into a pool of water,” he explained. “If I didn’t have a full-face helmet on, I would have drowned.”
Most of what Cpl. Zonn recalls before and after the crash comes from third parties, including his wife, Leah, who journaled his recovery. “I have no memory four days before and eight days after the accident.”
Leah was impressed by the amount of time everyone took to keep her informed. “From the nurses to the doctors, everyone was extremely supportive,” Leah recalled. “Dr. [Raymond] Pensy and Dr. [Thomas] Scalea were very thorough and explained everything in detail.”
Miraculously, Cpl. Zonn recovered within four months from multiple broken bones, shredded tendons and muscles, and a severe brain injury. “I went back to work like nothing even happened,” he noted. “Everyone on the scene thought I wasn’t going to make it. The Shock Trauma team did an extensive amount of work to make sure I stayed alive. My injuries were so severe that my heart kept failing so they operated on one half of my body one day; and the other half, the next.”
When Cpl. Zonn was discharged from Shock Trauma, he was transferred to the UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute to continue his recovery. “I was doing occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and other therapies I didn’t even know existed. I learned how to redo everything,” he added.
Going to the Shock Trauma clinic for follow up “was almost like going to see family because every single person knew who I was,” he explained. “Basically, everybody who worked on me—who kept me alive—was there at the clinic. It was a very warming experience.
“I came in so broken,” Cpl. Zonn stated. “There’s no better way for me to be able to express how appreciative I am, and my family is, for the amazing things Shock Trauma does, then to be able to give back to the people who saved my life.”