Basalt Boy Scout Troop honors volunteer for aiding unresponsive man
El Jebel resident Ligia Bonilla has worked for years to help Boy Scouts live up to their motto to always be prepared. Basalt Boy Scout Troop 242 recently honored her for practicing what she preaches.
Bonilla was presented with a certificate of recognition in a surprise ceremony at the troop’s Court of Honor on Jan. 27 for helping save a life by rendering medical aid to an unresponsive man.
Scoutmaster Brad Elliot said Bonilla is a humble person, so word of her good deed in November took awhile to circulate among the troop. He said he felt honoring Bonilla’s life-saving action would be a good lesson for the boys.
“That’s basically what Boy Scouts is about, right? Helping other people,” Elliot said. “You talk about these things but sometimes, it’s reality. It’s good to be prepared.”
Bonilla said she was traveling to work in Glenwood Springs shortly after midnight Nov. 15 when she saw a man on the ground in the parking lot of the Caravan Inn, off Grand Avenue. She pulled over, exited her car and found him bleeding from the back of his head and unresponsive.
“He was not breathing,” she said.
Bonilla said she ran back to her car to call 911, then started administering CPR.
“It took the ambulance four or five minutes to arrive. It seemed like hours,” she said.
After she rendered aid for about one or two minutes, two police officers arrived, she said. The man coughed up blood, so Bonilla was hopeful her efforts were helping. The man was attempting to move, so she tried to keep him still because she didn’t know the extent of his injuries. The ambulance crew took over the life-saving efforts once they arrived on the scene at 1826 Grand Ave.
The Glenwood Springs Fire Department report on the incident said the call for aid came at 12:20 a.m. The report by responders said a person was at the scene keeping the victim still. It didn’t mention CPR being given to the victim, but Bonilla said the victim had started breathing prior the arrival of the ambulance.
Bonilla said she was uncertain during the ordeal if the man was going to survive or not. She was relieved she had first-aid and emergency-preparedness skills to help in the situation. She said she learned CPR when she worked for Eagle County. She learned more about first aid while working with the Scouts.
Bonilla now works part time at Basalt High School and with Pitkin County. Bonilla said she has previously helped with first aid when Scouts had splinters or burns, but never in a life-threatening situation.
Federal medical privacy laws make it next to impossible to find out what happens to a person who is taken to the hospital without their consent. But the need to know how the man in the parking lot fared gnawed at Bonilla. She called the emergency room at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and explained she only wanted to know if he survived. She didn’t seek his name or any personal information. About an hour later, she received a call back saying the man survived, she said.
Bonilla said she initially shared her story only with a close friend and her family. Bonilla and her husband, Jerry Evert, have two boys who have earned their Eagle Scout awards and another who is working toward the goal. Bonilla said she shared her story with her boys to stress that the skills they learn in first aid and emergency preparedness could be useful.
“You might save a life,” she said. “You might feel worse if you don’t do anything.”
Bonilla said she has helped as a volunteer with the Basalt Boy Scout Troop since 2008, when the eldest of her sons was a member. Ladibel, now in college, earned his Eagle Scout designation. Elmer, 15, became an Eagle Scout at the age of 13 and is now trying to earn all 136 badges. He has 99.
Gabriel, 12, is a Life Scout, one step below an Eagle Scout.
One of Bonilla’s main duties is keeping the official tally for the merit badges the individual Scouts have earned. She also guides Scouts to adult educators that can help them learn skills they need to earn badges. Bonilla also was a den leader for the Cub Scouts last year.
Elliot said Bonilla always volunteers her time to help the troop.
“She’s a great person,” he said. “I was really pleased to recognize (her efforts).”
Bonilla said she didn’t want personal recognition for her efforts. She was willing to share her story, she said, to inspire other people to learn life-saving skills and use them if unexpected circumstances arise.
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