A Heroic Journey is Honored with an Unprecedented Award
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman presented Jon Mark McMullen, VP of Arrow Health Solutions, and a three-man DPS flight crew with the prestigious Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for their heroic efforts to deliver life-saving formula to a foster family trapped by hurricane Harvey flooding. This is the first time this award has been presented to someone outside of the TDFPS. As the commissioner indicated, the only reason TDPFS had zero fatalities during Harvey was because of Jon Mark’s determination, his persistence, and his heart to serve. Read his incredible story below.
The 30 day supply of doctor prescribed formula should have been delivered two days earlier to Arrow foster parent, Tammy Leger in Lumberton, Texas but flooding from Harvey made any shipments impossible. The special formula is for children with impaired GI function, and Tammy’s boys were running out. If she didn’t get the formula soon, her children would not survive.
Tammy, like many Arrow foster parents, receives her medical supplies through Arrow Health Solutions, which donates all proceeds to the programs and services of Arrow Child & Family Ministries. The vice president of Arrow Health Solutions, Jon Mark McMullen was contacted by Tammy’s insurance company Superior Health Plan to devise a plan for getting the desperately needed formula to Tammy.
Jon Mark immediately began calling all hospitals, emergency medical facilities, pharmacies, durable medical equipment companies, and other retail vendors in the Lumberton area to find any formula that Tammy could access. But there were no local facilities that stocked or could even acquire the Peptamen Jr 1.5 formula, and even facilities in Houston were not able to help.
Then after contacting a registered dietician to look for an alternative equivalent formula that could be used for a few days until the prescribed formula could arrive, Jon Mark obtained a verbal prescription order from a doctor for the alternative formula. Then the search began for a local supply of that formula. The results were the same. None was available.
The only thing left to do was for Jon Mark to obtain a supply of the formula in Austin, Texas where he lived, and personally drive it to Lumberton just north of Beaumont. But when he arrived, the bridge he needed to cross to get to Lumberton had collapsed, and the Department of Public Safety had the road to the bridge blocked. After speaking with DPS troopers, he got permission to proceed to a staging area where boats were being used to ferry people and supplies. But the current of the rushing water had increased so much that the rescue boats were capsizing and authorities halted all the boating efforts.
Jon Mark was not dissuaded. He immediately began calling helicopter touring companies in the area, but they were all being used by FEMA to medivac patients from Beaumont. So
he obtained alternate driving routes from DPS troopers, and for six hours he attempted to find a way through to get the formula to Tammy and her kids. But flood waters had shut down all access to Lumberton.
About 8:00 Friday night, Jon Mark contacted Arrow’s CEO, Scott Lundy and let him know that all efforts to deliver the formula had been exhausted, and they needed to use Scott’s contacts to get access to a helicopter. Scott called TDFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman, who is also the former chief of the Texas Rangers, and within minutes DPS Air Command called Jon Mark. He would have his helicopter.
After coordinating a pickup location with DPS Air Command, and arranging for a landing zone with the Lumberton Fire Department, Jon Mark personally delivered the box of formula to Tammy’s waiting child.
Tammy posted on her Facebook page, “(Jon Mark) somehow managed to coordinate with a DPS helicopter and the Lumberton Fire Department to hand deliver the boys formula to us at the fire station. I am amazed! I am so indescribably thankful for everything everyone did to bring this scary situation to an end. Jon Mark you went above and beyond!!!