I moved to Aspen from Mississippi six years ago to take the position of imaging director of Aspen Valley Hospital. I have been a health care professional for 34 years in many capacities. Sadly I was an EMT before anyone knew what it stood for.
I was an athletic trainer and a surgical scrub tech before moving into diagnostic imaging. My career has taken me many places and provided me opportunities to work with many medical professionals in various fields, so I have a pretty good concept of caregiving. Coming to Aspen and working with this team of professionals has been the highlight of my career. While the competency and professionalism is of the highest caliber, it is the caring and compassion that have been so compelling to me. I see it every day. I saw it early Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning, at an annual event in Aspen, there was a medical emergency of a critical nature. A young man’s life was in serious jeopardy. The ensuing events solidified my belief that caring and compassion are embedded in this community. I say “community” because the real members of the team who provided first response were not health care professionals.
While a nurse and I were there and helping, the true heroes of this event are members of the Aspen police force. Over my years here, I’ve heard many statements like, “The Aspen cops just like to give tickets and hassle you.” I can’t go into details of the event on Sunday morning, but I am deeply compelled to recognize these young police officers who did more than give a ticket.
Officers Ryan Turner and Casey Ward took the lead, while officers Adam Loudan, Marcin Debski and Dave Rosselot took their positions around the patient. Paul Huffnagle (Huff), of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, also assisted these officers. All of these officers were attending the annual event. Their response to this emergency was immediate and perfect.
For a brief period of time, these six young men acted in unison, performing in auto mode, carrying out precision emergency medical maneuvers to save a life. As the officers completed their tasks, the emergency medical team from Aspen Ambulance arrived within minutes of the 911 call. Again with the same auto response, this team of paramedics Gary O’Neill and Mike Lyons and Chris Cohan, EMT, assessed the patient, administered care and transported the patient to Aspen Valley Hospital.
Again I witnessed a degree of professionalism and compassion that simply cannot be rivaled. One more member of this quickly thrown-together team of caregivers is Brian Stevens. Brian is not a health care professional, but the role he played was equally critical. I understand he is about to be a member of the Aspen Police Department. Based on his actions on Sunday morning, I can assure everyone, he will add great value to the force and to the city of Aspen.
There were many others who played a role in this event, from the lifeguard on duty, Nick Pocaro, to the 911 operator, members of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Susan Robinson, a nurse attending the event. All displayed this same professionalism and compassion in a concerted effort to save a life. Look at the number of people who not only knew what to do but did so in such a capable and compassionate manner.
I hope this letter provides assurance to the people of Aspen and Pitkin County that your law enforcement and medical emergency response personnel take “to serve and to protect” to a higher level.
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