First responders and park rangers honored for Carlsbad Caverns rescue

First responders and park rangers honored for swift Carlsbad Caverns rescue

The first responders and park rangers whose quick actions likely saved the life of a stroke victim at Carlsbad Caverns National Park were celebrated at a special ceremony on Friday, June 2.

As we previously reported, the incident occurred in April. Rangers were notified that a visitor was having difficulty breathing underground at the cave, while along the Big Room Trail. They responded from the surface with medical equipment, including the park’s rugged 4-wheel drive wheelchair, while a physician bystander was also on scene, according to national park.

After reaching the scene the rangers began their evaluation and treatment, transporting the patient a half mile back to the elevators to return to the surface. The patient was met by medics from the Carlsbad and Eddy County fire departments and provided advanced-level patient care, park officials said. Rangers blocked off a helicopter landing zone within the visitor center parking lot, where a TransAero Medevac 2 landed and then transported the patients to the Stroke Center at University Medical Center in El Paso.

“Ultimately, the quick action by pre-hospital first responders and the stroke team at UMC led to an improved patient outcome.”

“The patient arrived in El Paso within 90 minutes of the onset of his symptoms,” park officials said.

Mike Buldra, clinical services manager with Trans Aerom said such a quick response would not have been possible without the exceptional performance of the NPS Rangers and CFD personnel, along with the critical communication of the REDA Communication Specialist who took the emergency call.

“This was phenomenal care,” said Mike Buldra, clinical services manager with Trans Aero. “Every minute of delay in providing definitive care increases the damage to the brain.  The goal is to have the patient to advanced care within three hours. This patient was there in half that time, and that was after being evacuated from almost 1,000 feet underground.”

Added Carla Escobar, administrative director of neuroscience with the University Medical Center of El Paso, “Ultimately, the quick action by pre-hospital first responders and the stroke team at UMC led to an improved patient outcome.”

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway thanked the entire staff at Carlsbad Caverns and all first responders.

“Our first responders save lives on a daily basis, but this is a perfect example of training and cooperation making a difference in a situation where every second matters. Events of this nature require coordination and facilitation by the entire team,” the mayor said.

Individuals assisting with April rescue effort included:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Personnel:

Heather Hyde, EMTB, Law Enforcement Ranger,

Carolyn Elliott, EMTB, Law Enforcement Ranger,

Richard “Rick” Taylor, EMR, Park Guide,

Carlsbad Fire Department Personnel:

LT Richard Ramirez, EMT-P,

LT Jesse Ramirez, EMT-I,

FF Anthony Briceno, EMT-P,

Eddy County Fire and Rescue Personnel:

Battalion Chief: David Watson, EMT-P,

Captain: Matthew Dawson EMT-P,

Firefighter: Angel Martinez,

Firefighter: Taylor Montoya,

REDA Dispatchers:

Cristina Vega,

Joah James,

Kirstene Campbell,

Megan Headrick.

Trans Aero MedEvac:

Warren Shaulis, flight nurse practitioner,

Vanessa Berger, flight paramedic,

Maximilian Mayr, pilot,