By Aaron Broverman and Kent Cadogan Loftsgard

Dr. Sam Simms

“During an emergency, I am able to survey the whole room and will catch things most doctors would miss in the heat of the moment. It’s a luxury that I never had before.” — Dr. Sam Simms

In August 1999, while driving to work after closing the deal on a new house, 34-year-old Sam Simms was hit by another driver and crashed in a rollover accident. Unable to move, having difficulty breathing, and hanging upside-down in his truck, he knew he was paralyzed. As the medical director of the emergency department at St. Mary’s Health Center in Jefferson City, Mo., he’d been a doctor more than long enough to realize the gravity of the moment. “The ambulance crew said I was directing care and they’re like, ‘Dr. Simms, you’re the patient now.’ I guess your instincts kick in and you