Off Duty RT: Right Place, Right Time
February 9, 2012
Last week we shared the story of a Chicago-based AARC member who helped a young woman struck by a hit and run driver. This week we bring you the story of another courageous member who helped a family whose car had submerged in an icy river.
A couple hours delay getting on the road for a day of snowmobiling and sledding up in Logan Canyon in Utah on New Year’s Eve proved to be serendipity for Kristen Scott, BS, CRT, a four-year veteran of the profession and RT at the Specialty Hospital in Logan.
What started out as a leisurely excursion with the family ended up in the rescue of three children whose car had plunged into the icy Logan River. “We most definitely ended up in the right place at the right time.”
Commotion up ahead
Scott, her husband, and two children were heading up U.S. Highway 89 into the mountains when they spotted commotion up ahead. “I got out and ran up the road to see a lifeless boy being handed up out of the river,” she recalls. “CPR was started, as well as the Heimlich maneuver.” The boy threw up and began breathing, and Scott put him on his side and began patting his back. “I had to do some additional rescue breaths to keep his respirations adequate.”
With the boy breathing on his own, Scott handed him over to another bystander and turned her attention to two little girls, the sister of the boy and her friend, who were also being brought up the riverbank. As it turns out, she was one of many Good Samaritans who pulled over to assist that day; by the time she got there, several men had already gone into the river, one of them blasting out one of the car windows with a handgun in order to free the three children from the vehicle. One of the two girls had a small air pocket to breathe in while the car was underwater, but the other one didn’t.
Scott began working on that child and determined her condition was grave. “I went to the first girl and she was deteriorating fast. I could tell she had minimal lung function and was full of water,” says the RT. “She was gray and breathing too fast.”
Time is of the essence
She rushed over to the policeman on the scene and quickly told him to call off the helicopter that had been summoned, explaining that there wasn’t going to be time to wait for it to arrive. “We didn’t have time to move cars and find a place to land the helicopter. We didn’t have time to wait for the ambulance. I said we needed to get them all down NOW in a private vehicle to give them the best chance.”
The policeman didn’t waste any time arguing. “He said, ‘OK if you think that’s the best, do it,’” says Scott. Working with other rescuers, she got all three children in one vehicle and a family friend who also happened to be on the scene drove them down the canyon to meet the ambulance. “Shortly after, two of the children were taken via Life Flight to a nearby facility.”
The Ellen Show
All three of the children were soon doing fine. But for Scott and her fellow Good Samaritans, the hoopla was just starting. Newspapers began running stories on the rescue, and it eventually caught the attention of producers on the Ellen Degeneres Show, who invited nine of them to be on the show, along with the children and dad.
Since Scott left the scene without telling anyone her name, it took the police and other bystanders three days to figure out who she was. But they eventually tracked her down and asked her to be part of the Ellen show.
“I normally would have never gone on the Ellen show,” says the RT. “To me, I’m glad I could be there to help and didn’t expect any of the press.” But when she found out the family would be there as well, she thought she should go to help them in the recovery process. “I felt it was probably a necessary step for the healing process, for the families and the children involved. I didn’t even tell most of my family until after the show had aired.”
Kristen Scott originally planned to be a nurse, but after a year of nursing school left to help care for her sister, who became ill with cancer while she was pregnant. When the baby was born prematurely and had to receive mechanical ventilation, she became intrigued by the profession. When the time was right for her to go back to school, she decided RT was for her. “I love my job and love being a part of a wonderful team,” she says.