‘It’s such a blessing’: Woman reunited with UW Med Flight nurse 22 years after shooting

MADISON, Wis. — More than two decades after she was critically injured in a shooting, a local woman got the chance to reunite with a nurse who helped save her life.

On June 11, 1999, Robin Kerl, who was 24 at the time, was leaving the Walmart on Madison’s west side with her fiancé when an ex-boyfriend attacked the couple, critically wounding Kerl and killing her fiancé.

A UW Med Flight crew was dispatched a short time later while first responders at the scene worked to care for Kerl. The crew, which included flight nurse Kim Maerz, helped get Kerl the treatment she needed to survive. Kerl went on to regain her abilities to walk and talk, but Maerz wasn’t around to see the progress she made. Until recently.

“It’s been 22 years and I truly didn’t think she was going to make it,” Maerz said. “I can’t believe she is walking, talking, communicating and participating; the power of the human being and the will to live is Robin all over.”

Their reunion came as the result of a chance encounter, too.

Maerz’s youngest son dates an employee at the gym where Kerl works out, and she noticed Kerl was wearing a Med Flight t-shirt one day. The employee went on to tell kerl she knew someone who worked at Med Flight, and Kerl asked if she could reach out to Maerz to see if she could reunite with the crew that treated her all those years ago.

“The day I opened that email up and it was Robin, I became very tearful,” Maerz said. “It was one of the warmest days of my career.”

In the 608: UW Med Flight sharing positive perspective from high in the sky

The pair ended up setting up a reunion with much better circumstances than when they first encountered each other. Kerl visited the Med Flight helicopter hangar, sat in the newest helicopter and finally got the chance to talk with Maerz in person.

“It feels so nice to finally meet Kim, the person who saved my life for me,” Kerl said. “It’s such a blessing, she’s helped me in my recovery, and I thank her so much for all her help that day.”