How Emergency Medical Responders Work

An EMR in Action
Although often adorable, grizzly bears are not looking for hugs when they charge at you.
Although often adorable, grizzly bears are not looking for hugs when they charge at you.

Luckily, Boas had just finished learning how to survive. He and six other teenage boys had reached the end of a month-long survival course, and as their final challenge, their instructors left them on their own with orders to rendezvous in several days at a prescribed location. The only advice the instructors gave them before parting was, "Don't die." That turned out to be a hard instruction to follow.

The group was just hours into their adult-free walkabout when the team leader, Josh Berg, rounded a tight bend to see what looked like a bale of hay a short distance ahead. The hay came barreling toward him, and all he could to do was yell, "Bear!" before all 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of it was on him. When the 7-foot (2.1 meter)-tall grizzly bit down on his skull, his friends could hear the crack over their own screams. After giving the 180-pound Berg a good shake, the bear dropped him and charged its next victim. In all, the grizzly took down four of the seven young men, cracking another skull and puncturing a lung before finally running off.

Boas, the EMR, concentrated on stabilizing Berg's neck and fractured skull in case of spinal injury, while the others treated the wounded as best they could. Luckily the group had an emergency location beacon, which they activated as quickly as possible to broadcast their location to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. They turned their tent into a field hospital where they monitored the injured and kept them warm as they waited to be rescued.

When the helicopter finally arrived, it wasn't equipped to take the two most severely injured teenagers. A second helicopter was to be dispatched and would arrive four hours later. In the meantime, the walking wounded got on board the first helicopter along with two of the three who weren't injured. Boas, the EMR, refused to leave the scene. Together with an Alaska state trooper, he stayed with his critically injured friends until they were evacuated. Incredibly, thanks in part to his efforts, everybody survived [source: Burnett].

Author's Note: How Emergency Medical Responders Work

When interviewed, one of Sam Boas's emergency services instructors back in Connecticut praised his student and pointed out that the story proved how a little bit of emergency medical training can go a long way. That's very true. It doesn't take too much time or money to learn how to save a life. The story of that bear attack both terrified and inspired me. On the one hand, the idea of being attacked by a giant grizzly in the middle of nowhere is completely petrifying. On the other hand, the manner in which those young men responded to the crisis is really impressive. I've already started looking into local EMR training courses.

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More Great Links


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