Alicia Moore doesn't remember her first snowboarding lesson. But thanks to the Utah Paramedic of the Year and his colleagues, she has the chance to learn all over again.
Moore and a friend were driving home from Park City through Provo Canyon on a snowy January afternoon when another driver lost control, crossed the median and plowed into their car. Provo paramedics Steve Heelis and Vincent Kay were on the scene of a fender bender near Bridal Veil Falls when the accident happened in front of them."I heard this boom and saw the car spinning," said Heelis, whom the Utah Bureau of Emergency Medical Services honored as that state's top paramedic Monday.
Heelis found Moore, 26, slumped behind the wheel unconscious and not breathing. Her seat belt was on and the car's airbag had deployed. He quickly used a jaw thrust maneuver to open her airway. Heelis then intubated Moore (ran a tube down her throat) to keep her breathing - no small feat when a patient is sitting up.
Provo firefighters Gary Jolley, Jerry Jolley and Brad Adams arrived to help remove Moore from the badly crushed car. While extrication occurred, Gary Jolley crawled into the back seat and from behind established an external jugular intravenous line in Moore's neck.
Heelis estimates it took Provo and Orem firefighters about 45 minutes to free Moore from the car. A helicopter took her to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, where her heart stopped twice in the emergency room.
Had paramedics not been on the scene of the first accident, Moore likely would have died, Heelis said. It takes about 10 minutes for Provo emergency crews to reach Provo Canyon from the closest fire station.
"I'm so thankful for them," Moore said. "I'm just glad they were there."
Heelis, a registered nurse, also cared for Moore during her 108-day hospital stay, which included three weeks in a coma.
"He kind of had a special interest in her," said Kathy Moore, Alicia Moore's mother.
Colleagues describe Heelis as role model who cheerfully performs his job and has an optimistic outlook. He shows concern for patients' needs, looking beyond their chief complaint to ensure the best possible outcome.
Provo Fire Chief Bill Blair gave Heelis, Kay, Gary Jolley, Jerry Jolley and Adams outstanding service awards Tuesday night. He also made Moore an honorary firefighter.
Heelis said Moore is the hero, not him. He said it's gratifying to see her recover.
Moore, who suffered two broken legs, a broken arm, a dislocated jaw, a torn rotator cuff, heart and lung bruises and a head injury, is relearning daily tasks. She undergoes physical, speech and occupational therapy daily at Mountain View Hospital where her mother works as secretary to the chief clinical officer.
A student at Utah Valley State College and a baker at Smith's Food and Drug prior to the accident, Moore said she doesn't know what the future holds. She still has at least three months of rehabilitation ahead. She does plan to get on a snowboard sometime if her knee holds up.
"I want to try it again," she said.