EMS Training Helped Westport Teen Save Hikers in Bear Attack

“We’re really proud of him,” said Marc Hartog, coordinator of Westport Volunteer EMS. “And we’re really gratified that the training he received was able to save some lives.”

A Westport teen is being hailed a hero for helping to save the lives of two other teens who were badly injured in a  — and the skills he gained in his first academic year of training withWestport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services’ Explorer Post program were key in preventing the frightening ordeal from turning into a worse tragedy.

Sam Boas, 16, a student at Staples High School was training with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the wilderness near Palmer, Alaska, with six other teens, aged 16-18, when they were attacked by a brown bear with cub at about 8:30 p.m., Alaska time. The teens, who were hiking without adults as part of a final test of their skills, managed to get back to camp after the attack and activated a location beacon so that emergency rescuers could find them.

Boas was not injured in the incident.

According to a report from Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers and Department of Public Safety, “two of the teens sustained serious life threatening injuries, two suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and the remaining three suffered minor injuries or had exposure-related issues.”

As of yesterday, the two teens with the most significant injuries were reportedly still hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Boas, who had completed one academic year of training with Westport Volunteer EMS, was able to use his skills to treat the victims while they waited nearly 10 hours to be located and transported to a hospital via helicopter.

According to Peters’ report, the crew of the first helicopter that arrived at the campsite wasn’t properly trained to treat the two badly injured victims, so a second helicopter had to be dispatched, resulting in a four-hour delay. Meanwhile the first helicopter took the other victims to an airport, and then they were transported by ambulance to the closest hospital.

Although a trooper stayed with the two badly injured victims, Boas “refused to leave,” his mother, Carol —  — said during an interview on Tuesday. She said because the trooper didn’t have much EMS training, her son decided to stay behind and help treat the victims until the next helicopter could arrive.

“It was because of the training my son got with Westport EMS that he was able to help save those victims,” she said.

Marc Hartog, coordinator for Westport Volunteer EMS, said the incident is a strong testament to the fact that just a little bit of EMS training can go a long way when it comes to handling emergency situations.

“This was really baptism by fire, this thing,” he said, adding that “what makes the outcome of the incident particularly satisfying [from Westport Emergency EMS’ perspective] is that… he was a pretty typical student in this class: He was typical and yet shortly after the training he was able use it … and even improvise on it.”

Coincidentally, Boas’ EMS certification arrived while he was on the 30-day survival trip. Hartog said. He said teens he participate in the Explorer program get training “beyond the normal EMR level.” The next step in the training for Boas, he said, is to ride in the ambulance and respond to real life calls.

“What’s really impressive is how he [Boas] was able to stay calm, cool and collected, and make good decisions,” Hartog said. “And he did an impressive job of improvising — which is something we cover during the training. You have to remember that he’s out there, in the wilderness, without access to any of the equipment that we normally have when we respond to an emergency.”

Hartog said from what he heard, boas only had a standard first aid kit at his disposal.

“I heard through a third party that one of the victims had a punctured lung,” Hartog said. “And so he had to include the wound… now normally when we do that we have a special apparatus we use  — but from what I understand he improvised, brilliantly, using a plastic bag. That kept the lung from collapsing.”

In addition Boas had those who weren’t as badly injured urinate into containers so that they could be used to keep the more seriously injured warm during the cold night.

“We’re really proud of him,” said Hartog, speaking on behalf of Westport Volunteer EMS. “And we’re really gratified that the training he received was able to save some lives.”

According to Carol Boas, as well as the account provided in peters’ report, the teens were hiking single file down a ridge leading toward a stream. When the first teen crossed the stream, he yelled that there was a bear and the other teems saw the bear attacking him – its cub nearby. The bear then reportedly attacked the second teen in the line, then went back to the first. According to reports, one teen kicked the bear to get it off another teen, and the bear ran away.

The teens attacked have been identified as; Joshua Berg, age 17, of New City, NY; Samuel Gottsegen, age 17, of Denver, CO; Noah Allaine, age 16, of Albuquerque, NM; Simeon Melman, age 17, of Huntington, NY; Victor Martin, age 18, of Richmond, CA; and Shane Garlock, age 16, of Pittsford, NY.

Berg and Gottsegen were reportedly at the head of the line and bore the brunt of the attack, receiving the most serious injuries.

Boas and three of the other teens in the attack were interviewed on ABC News this evening.

saraandy July 28, 2011 at 12:10 AM
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