EMTS receive award for work during the Crandall Canyon disaster
The following article is an excerpt from the Utah State EMS awards ceremony in Salt Lake City.
In August 2007, the entire nation was aware of the events as they unfolded during the more than month long Crandall Canyon mine disaster. What most people were unaware of is the heroic efforts and innumerable man hours provided by the EMS providers of Emery County.
Shortly after the early morning response on Aug. 6, 2007, by the Huntington EMT's to a "possible mine collapse, unknown injuries," it became apparent there would be no quick rescue of the six trapped miners. Plans were put into place to have an ambulance, manned with three EMTs, on scene throughout the rescue operation. The need was not only to staff the ambulance at the mine continually for an undetermined number of days, but to maintain the normal number of responders for the Huntington community.
As word spread of the situation, calls came in from EMTs in the neighboring towns of Castle Dale, Orangeville, Ferron, Emery and Green River, eager to do what they could to help.
Emery County EMS consists of approximately 59 volunteer EMTs, this includes Green River. Huntington's ambulance is staffed by 20 of them, and like most volunteer rural EMTs, they all have other full time jobs and responsibilities.
Some would go to work and then man a shift at the mine. Others sacrificed work, home and family responsibilities to cover the 12 hour shifts.
Then on Aug. 16, the unthinkable happened. As a crew was standing by, a mine worker rushed up to them and said," get your ambulance, we've had another cave in." This had trapped and injured an unknown number of mine rescue workers.
At the request of a mine official, one EMT on scene was asked to go underground to assist with the initial treatment and triage of the victims as they were removed from the collapsed area. With the limited information received by the EMTs on scene, Emery County dispatchers launched ambulances from Huntington, Castle Dale and Ferron, as well as Life Flight and Air Med helicopters.
As ambulances and helicopters were arriving, victims were being removed from the mine. A paramedic and flight nurse from Life Flight were there to assist with triage (the procedure to assess the severity of the victims injuries and prioritize transport), this identified who would be flown to hospitals up north. The others would be transported by ambulance to Castleview Hospital.
In the mean time Emery's ambulance was dispatched to Ferron to stand-by and cover the south end of the county, and a Carbon County ambulance was sent to Huntington to cover the north end, so in case something happened, the communities were covered.
One Carbon County ambulance was also dispatched to the mine to assist with transport. By the time the event wound down a total of 10 miners were treated and transported two by air and eight by ground.
From the beginning and throughout the ordeal, the EMTs of Emery and Carbon Counties as well as Emery County deputies and dispatchers, flight crews and mine personnel performed to the highest standards of professionalism.
An Emery County EMT is quoted as saying," You have no idea how a small area like ours will act when there is a disaster. It's not just donating something to a cause, this is personal to us."
EMT crews worked so well together that often EMTs were doing patient care with other EMTs and transporting in ambulances that were not from the town they work in.
Another EMT is quoted from an email to the county EMTs," Even though we all work in different towns and do things differently, and we may not always see eye to eye on things, we still strive for one thing and that is the best care for our patients. We train together, and no amount of training could have prepared us for this, but that day in August we all stepped up and we worked as one team. I'm truly honored to work with each of you and am proud to be an Emery County EMT. We should all be proud of what we do."
On May 19 in Salt Lake City during the Utah State EMS awards, Emery County EMS was honored for the innumerable hours of service and selfless acts of professionalism, heroism and cooperation, an award for the Outstanding Response to a Specific Incident for 2007.
Along with the Emery County Ambulance, the Sheriffs office, Life Flight, and Carbon County ambulance were also honored for their assistance in the rescue efforts.
The volunteer EMTs of Emery County dedicate themselves to the citizens of the county through countless hours of training and service, and would like to thank you and the other agencies, for the support given to them.