At approximately 3:00 P.M. on Friday, July 30, 2010, a private rafting party of Boy Scouts arrived at Sheep Gulch Boat Ramp on the Snake River with a 16 year-old male in acute cardiac arrest receiving Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
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Forest Service River Rangers, nearby commercial river guides, and party members assisted with CPR while river rangers retrieved and deployed an on-site automated external defibrillator (AED).
The use of the AED led to the victim regaining pulse and breathing at the boat ramp prior to a very prompt arrival and transport of the victim by Alpine Ambulance to Star Valley Medical Center (SVMC) where the patient was treated and later transported to Children’s’ Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The problem began when the rafting party arrived at an area often used to jump off cliffs into the Snake River. The teen complained of his heart racing just before going into a seizure. Group members immediately began CPR when needed, and quickly floated to the closest boat ramp where rangers received them while requesting an ambulance and retrieving the AED kept on-site.
A doctor on-scene, staff at SVMC, and officials at Children’s Hospital in Utah all have reported that the teen is alive with no apparent brain damage due to the quick thinking of the scouts and forest rangers to start and continue CPR, having a nearby AED and using it properly, quick medical response by nearby Alpine Ambulance, and the water temperature of the river slowing internal processes. The victim will be receiving surgery today to fix a genetic heart problem that had not been previously found.
The Snake River Management Program is believed to be the first river section to obtain, store and deploy AEDs at busy river access areas in the country. Two AED’s costing over $3,000 each were provided for use in 2001 by the Snake River Fund, a nonprofit donation collecting organization formed to help pay for basic services on the National Forest in lieu of the having to pay mandatory fees. Two additional AEDs were provided this year by the Snake River Fund working with an anonymous benefactor and friends. As a result, AEDs and backboards were stored at the closest evacuation points below two of the larger rapids during high-water season in hopes of helping the public at a critical time.
“I’d like to recognize the professionalism and huge scope of work the forest river rangers are responsible for and do an amazing job accomplishing. From working with a sometimes unfriendly public, cleaning and fixing facilities, managing and maintaining the peace at ramps, initiating search & rescue and emergency medical situations, and covering the water, banks, and nearby highway emergencies, we expect a great deal from our people, and our 2010 crew has gone above and beyond what we would call heroic,” said Jackson District Ranger, Dale Deiter. The river crew appreciates the continued help of Star Valley Search & Rescue and all bystanders including professional river guides who delayed their trips to assist in the chain of care.