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May 18, 2016

Paramedics honored for saving boy impaled on fence

Pioneer Press

STILLWATER, Minn. — Jack Hamond nearly died last fall when he fell from a tree near Lake McKusick in Stillwater and landed on a metal fence pole.

The pole impaled his right thigh, severely damaging his femoral artery and vein. While his younger brothers and friends ran for help, Jack ripped the stake from his leg and ran about 50 feet before collapsing from the blood loss.

“You know when you’re swimming, and you’re first getting in and you feel the water on your feet? That’s what I felt,” said Jack, a sixth-grader at New Heights Charter School in Stillwater. “I looked down and there was just a huge pool of blood, and I knew that wasn’t right. I’ve never seen that much blood in my life, and the fact that I couldn’t control myself, and there was an ambulance, and there were people crying, it just made me have that feeling that I was really close to dying.”

Stillwater firefighters arrived within three minutes of the 911 call. Lakeview EMS transported him to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where a team of six surgeons was waiting for him.

The rescue crew was honored Tuesday with the “Outstanding Achievement Award” from Regions; the event, which included a luncheon and “Rig Wash,” was part of National EMS Week.

“Thank you, everyone who saved my life,” Jack, 12, told the rescue workers. “Knowing that I could have died is scary. Some days I just can’t think about it; it’s just too much for me to handle. But then when I tell myself that I’m still alive, I just feel so happy. It makes me think of a miracle, I truly mean it. I remember going into shock and … looking up into the end of life. Thanks to all the people who saved my life. It wasn’t time for me to go.”

Ambulance ride
When Lakeview EMS paramedics arrived on the afternoon of Oct. 15, Jack was curled up in a ball and covered in blood, said Matt Milder, Lakeview EMS supervisor. “We knew he was critical at that point,” he said.

Critical-care paramedics Nathan Hart and Matthew Lundquist recruited Stillwater firefighter Jake Bell to drive the Lakeview ambulance to Regions so they could ride in the back of the ambulance with Jack. Hart and Lundquist had to apply a tourniquet at the top of Jack’s right thigh in order to stop the bleeding en route.

“We knew that if we didn’t get the bleeding to stop, he wouldn’t survive,” Lundquist said Tuesday.

Lundquist and Hart got to meet Jack on Tuesday, pose for photos with him and talk hockey and baseball.

“I have an 8-year-old son, and I just remember seeing (Jack) added that personal level to it,” Hart said. “I’m super-appreciative that we can see him here today and be recognized for it, because it doesn’t happen often.”

Added Lundquist: “It’s really neat to see him running around. It does wonders to see him looking so well.”

Vascular surgeon Joel Barbato also was happy to see Jack doing so well. He was part of the team that took a vein from Jack’s left thigh to repair the blood vessels in his right groin.

“Imagine a steel rod inside your leg, and the courage that it took for him to get off of it and make his way to safety,” Barbato said. “It’s just an incredible story. He’s the same age as my son (Ben), and my son plays hockey and baseball as well, so it’s hard not to become a little personally invested when you see a guy like Jack.”

Michael McGonigal, director of trauma services for Regions, said Jack’s case is the perfect example of the trauma center in action. Six surgeons and three nurses began operating on Jack within 25 minutes of his arrival at the hospital.

“That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” he said. “We design it that way so that we’re fast. We’re built for speed, basically.”

Jack received 42 staples in his legs and spent six days in the hospital, including four days in the intensive-care unit. He said he still sometimes feels “a little bit of tingling” in his leg and that it can start to “really hurt” after he’s moved around a lot.

“I think that the pain is going to be there for the rest of my life, but I don’t know,” he said. “It could be the muscle just growing.”

Dad's a firefighter
He regularly sees the Stillwater firefighters who helped save his life; Jack’s father, Steve, has been a member of the department since 2008.

“As a firefighter/EMT, you never plan on having to use your training on someone you love, and you never plan on having your fellow responders show up to save someone you love,” Steve Hamond told the rescue workers.

“I’ll never forget the day we had to rely on others to save my son’s life,” he said. “From the moment of the 911 call to the moment we left the hospital, everyone worked together to find the best possible outcome for my son. We cannot ever express our gratitude and thanks … you guys will always have a place in our hearts.”

Firefighters Jake Bell and Bill Peltier and Capt. Chad Jansen, who were first on scene, posed for pictures with Jack in front of a Stillwater Fire Department truck.

“You still climbing trees?” Bell asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack said.

“Nothing with stakes around it though, right?” Peltier said.

“Right. And not high at all,” Jack said.

Fire Chief Stuart Glaser said he keeps the thank-you note Jack sent the department on his desk at work.

“Dear Stillwater Fire Department,” Jack wrote. “Thank you so much for saving my life. I really appreciate the hard work you put into saving me. I’m really doing great. Thanks for the cards, thoughts and prayers.”

“I see this every day, and it reminds me of all the good work that our staff does … and why we are here to do our job,” Glaser said.

Copyright 2016 Pioneer Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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