It was an incredible experience to be a part of. I really credit the air-med team who recognized this was a life or limb situation. —Dr. Toby Enniss
SALT LAKE CITY— Dr. Toby Enniss said he had planned to wear a shirt and tie for the event, but duty called and he showed up in his scrubs and lab coat Wednesday.
He was quiet as he walked toward the Utah Emergency Medical Services Awards Ceremony, and when asked if he would be receiving an award simply replied that he wasn't sure what the agenda was; saving lives is just "exactly why we do what we do."
He was among 73 first responders, doctors and nurses honored for their work performed during the year, responding to emergencies that included a life-saving amputation, performed by Enniss and others under difficult circumstances.
"It was an incredible experience to be a part of," Enniss said. "I really credit the air-med team who recognized this was a life or limb situation."
About a year ago a 19-year-old boy jumped the Union Pacific freight train with his dog when sheets of metal shifted and pinned him from the waist down. Authorities believed he was trapped for eight hours before he was discovered. Crews were unable to move the metal and the decision was made to amputate the man's leg in the freight car.
Gillian Seton, the other University of Utah surgeon on the scene that day, said "the most remarkable part of it was that everything went so smoothly."
She said the work of the surgeons was quick — only five minutes — but to see everyone else do perform their jobs so well was a "wake up call."
"It just raised my respect for how much effort they have to put forth into keeping people safe, and what they have to do to get a patient from a situation to the hospital," Seton said.
Jonathan Jastram, a Murray City Fire Department engineer, said he had never heard of anyone doing an on-site amputation and probably won't experience that again in his career.
"I was just happy to help," he said. "It was great to be part of that team that day."
A team, he said of, more than 60 fire personnel from the Salt Lake Valley.
"We work great as a team," Jastram said. "It's one of the few systems where different agencies can work together like that."
Debi Lundskog, a flight nurse, flew with the surgeon and assisted in the amputation. She said she couldn't believe how many firemen were there and how organized it was.
"To see everyone come together and make a difference and save that man's life was really amazing," she said.
Brian Simpson, another flight nurse, intubated the man for surgery in a sitting position — something usually done with patients flat on their backs in a calm, quiet and controlled scene.
"The stress level was pretty high," he said. "We were stressed but we were still within the norm."
Even when crews were told to rest or take a break to drink water, Simpson said they wanted to stay and help.
"Everyone knew that they had to do that, but nobody wanted to because they wanted to help that kid," he said.Comment on this story
Awards were given to Robert Grow, an Ogden regional hospital surgeon, for Emergency Physician of the year; Tia Dalrymple, registered nurse at Primary Children's Medical Center, was named the Emergency Nurse of the Year; Cody Fisher and Zach Hatch were named Paramedics of the Year; Deputy Tyler Greenhalgh, AEMT for the Weber County Sherrif's Office received the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year award; Shanua Hatton-Ward with Primary Children's Medical Hospital received the Distinguished Service Award; and Mikel Kilfoyle received the Distinguished EMSC Coordinator Award.
Among those awarded were first responders from the South Salt Lake Fire Department, West Valley City Fire Departmenet, Murray City Fire Department, Salt Lake City Fire Department, AirMed, Unified Fire Authority and Sanpete County Sheriff's Office Public Safety Dispatch.