Surprise: Pitkin County dispatcher meets boy she helped save

Pitkin County 911 dispatcher Liesel Hadfield, right, greets Grayson Kidder, 8, who she helped save after he fell out of a tree in October and landed on his head. Behind Grayson is his mother, Jonna Goldstone.
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A Pitkin County 911 dispatcher received an early Christmas present Monday when an 8-year-old local boy she helped save this fall paid her a surprise visit at work.

“I’m so glad to meet you,” Liesel Hadfield said after shaking Grayson Kidder’s hand. “I’m so overwhelmed.”

Grayson had climbed up a tree at Francis Whitaker Park in Aspen on Oct. 9 and was in the process of climbing back down when he fell, possibly as far as 30 feet, said his mother, Jonna Goldstone. His sister Hadley, 11, was with him and saw what happened.

“Hadley thinks a branch broke when he was coming down,” she said.

Grayson landed on his head and was not breathing when the 911 call went through. Hadfield relayed CPR instructions to Hadley, who communicated them to her father, Goldstone said. Grayson was breathing again on his own by the time he arrived at Aspen Valley Hospital, Hadfield said.

Grayson suffered multiple skull fractures and a traumatic brain injury as a result of the fall, and spent weeks at Children’s Hospital in Denver before returning to Aspen, she said. Grayson, who was still wearing a neck brace Monday, is now back at Aspen Elementary School and healing up nicely, his mom said. Grayson shyly told a reporter he was “good.”

“He’s doing really well,” Goldstone said.

Grayson, Hadley and Goldstone made the trek out to the dispatch center at the North 40 Fire Station on Monday to personally thank Hadfield for her efforts.

“It’s every mother’s worst nightmare,” Goldstone said of the accident.

Hadfield was so surprised and overwhelmed by Grayson’s visit she started crying and had to walk outside briefly to compose herself. When she returned, she gave Grayson a hug.

“I even get to meet the little guy,” she said. “It’s an incredible Christmas gift.”

Later, Grayson presented Hadfield with a special “911 Lifesaver” pin dispatchers receive when they save a life using CPR.

“I’m just thankful you were there,” Goldstone said to Hadfield.

Hadfield said the incident with Grayson was the first time she’d been able to convey CPR instructions in a situation where the person lived. It took three days after the incident for her to feel normal again, she said.

“It was just that it could have so easily gone the other way,” Hadfield said.

And while Goldstone said she thinks Hadfield saved her son, Hadfield was modest about taking that kind of credit.

“I still don’t know that I saved this kid,” she said. “That is a bold statement. It took a lot of us. It wasn’t just me.”