Emergency responders rewarded for saving lives

Derek Gruendler, left, and Todd Gottbehuet, with the Clifton Fire Department, were among the recipients of this year’s Phoenix Awards.

By Heather Nelson

Deputies Ben Marsh and Mike Dillon sat at a yellow picnic table with fellow Mesa County officers Wednesday. They shared stories, about their craziest calls and the times they’d saved people’s lives.

As part of EMS Week, Marsh and Dillon were honored for their assistance in a medical emergency. Together — and with the help of the Clifton Fire Department — they saved a life.

“With medical calls we help and then head off to the next call. So, we never know what happened (to the patient). It’s good to know that everything is OK,” Marsh said.

Community Hospital hosted an EMS week luncheon at the Colorado Mesa University baseball field Wednesday, to honor responders to cardiac arrest patients with the Phoenix Award, symbolic of the bird that dies and comes back again.

Bobby Dery, medical director for Mesa County EMS, is an emergency room doctor at St. Mary’s Hospital. He said the luncheon and awards ceremony is held every year, and that at least 70 responders were involved in bringing back 12 lives in Mesa County in the past year.

“Emergency responders have a hard job. I think the public has a hard time understanding. It’s something to acknowledge, and it’s important for us to do,” Dery said.

Lieutenant Dave Quick serves with the volunteer fire department in Fruita and also works as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital. His childhood dream of becoming a firefighter became a reality more than 12 years ago.

“It’s nice to see that many people interested in the community,” Quick said of volunteer emergency responders. “Sometimes we have to roll out of bed at 1 a.m.; it’s a different degree of volunteering.”

Even if emergency responders are volunteers, the job requires ongoing training. Quick and others said the medical career field is always changing, so responders must learn to adapt to these changes.

But it doesn’t matter that the times are changing. Each responder still has a common motto: “One team, one mission.”

“We’re very lucky to live in Mesa County. These are the unsung heroes,” Dery said, as the ceremony came to a close and responders filed out, continuing the business of saving lives.


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