Last October, mother Dusty Morgan desperately needed the aid of emergency medical service workers for her toddler, Gus, when he was found unconscious and not breathing after falling into a horse trough. Fortunately, those workers went above and beyond and the story had a happy ending.
“Simply said, they saved more than a life, they saved our whole family,” said Dusty Morgan, a Coalville native and Morgan resident. “They did everything they needed to give him the best, and were a great example of trust and team work.”
It was such a great example that the incident received state-wide attention from the Utah Department of Health as well as the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness. At the July 9, Utah EMS Awards Ceremony, the Morgan County emergency was honored as the state’s outstanding performance for a rural emergency medical incident.
“They more than deserve the honor,” Morgan said. “It was completely appropriate.”
Morgan County Sheriff Deputy Tyler Grose was first on the scene the day of the accident in Stoddard. Blake Nelson, a registered nurse with Ogden Regional Medical Center, was passing by on his way to his parents’ home at the time and stopped to help perform CPR.
AirMed was dispatched, but in spite of the team’s efforts, Gus still had no pulse. CPR was continued all the way to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where Gus arrived with a beating heart. When discharged from the hospital months later, he left as a normal, mischievous two-year-old.
Morgan County Sherrif’s Office, Ogden Regional Medical Center, AirMed, Weber Area Dispatch, Morgan County Ambulance and Ogden Fire Department were all honored for their part in the handling of the incident.
“It takes the whole system to make this thing work,” said Terry Turner, Morgan County EMS director. “It took everyone.
“This was a pretty big deal, a first for us for something of this kind. For something like this to be successful is unusual,” Turner said. “To survive being under water that long is pretty unusual.”
Turner said resuscitation took place for a full hour before Gus was able to make it to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Morgan said she hopes this incident makes a difference in emergency protocol in the future and reminds EMS workers to not give up even if things look grim.
Turner said it was particularly rewarding for police, dispatchers, EMT, fire crew, AirMed operators and medical personnel to share in the honor and see the living, breathing outcome of their work.
“Little Gus stole the show,” Turner said of the recent awards ceremony. “He is the cutest little kid, and the dispatchers were all giving him hugs. They take the calls and usually never see the outcome. Dispatchers are an important part of the system. They had never met the family until that day, and were pretty happy at the ceremony.”
For dispatcher Shawn Watts, it was the first time in her 20-year career that she had met a family she initially took a 911 call for.
“It was very humbling to put a face to a name,” Watts said. “It made my job that much better to see we really do make a difference. It made me know there are people out there who appreciate what we do. It revitalized me in my job.”
Watts pointed out that dispatchers by nature have to remain optimistic that things will turn out well, and she did the same for Gus’s call.
“Deep down you always wonder, you always hope all calls end up like this,” Watts said.
The fact that the water he fell into was cold may have actually helped lead to a good outcome, she said.
Morgan said her two-year-old is hilarious, not shy at all, and the most independent spirit ever. Following the accident, Gus still “works hard every day” seeing a physical therapist and participating in home therapy sessions.
“The county has a pretty outstanding team,” Morgan said. “They did lots for us.”
“As I reflect on the many lives the men and women in the EMS profession have affected, my respect and admiration for their commitment and fortitude continues to expand,” said Bureau Director Paul Patrick. “It’s one of the highlights of the year to have the opportunity to thank them publicly and acknowledge their remarkable service.”
Turner said he hopes the plaque hanging on his wall for outstanding and excellent performance and dedication will remind emergency workers how important and appreciated their work is. In Utah alone, there are currently 5,043 certified providers of pre-hospital emergency medical services.
“The system works,” Turner said. “It is pretty spectacular.”