Englebright park ranger receives life-saving award
June 9, 2009
- Englebright Lake park ranger Josh Jimerfield received the District life-saving award in a surprise ceremony June 5, 2009
- Jimerfield was recognized for providing emergency medical care off-duty to a traffic accident victim in November 2008
ENGLEBRIGHT LAKE, Calif. -- In the fading dusk, amid the shattered glass scattered along the highway, through the glaring headlights, he ran toward the wreck.
No pulse, the nurse said. Have to get her out. Do CPR. Josh drew his pocket knife, sawed through the seat belt. Gently, gently, they lifted her out of the car, laid her down in the road.
It was the nurse calling the count. Josh was pumping out the chest compressions. One...two...three...four. Of all the people to witness the accident, what are the odds two of them would be an emergency medical technician and a nurse'
It seemed like hours had passed since he'd called 911. <i>Where are they'</i>
Englebright Lake park ranger Josh Jimerfield was driving home Nov. 13, 2008, a half-hour late leaving work. His wife and infant son were expecting him.
Rounding a curve on the two-lane highway, it happened so fast it took his breath away. A car swung out from oncoming traffic, straight into the path of a truck a few cars ahead of him. It wasn't the sound of the collision that struck him. It was the headlights whirling in the dark as they spun off the road.
A semi pulled into the middle of the road, blocking traffic. A woman sprang from the car ahead of him. "I'm an RN," she yelled. "I can help." Josh followed. It was automatic, no thought, just action, the emergency medical training taking over. Is the scene safe' Check. Who's injured' The driver of the truck was pacing along the roadside. The other driver was still in her car.
On and on he pushed, for what seemed like forever. Then the ambulance was there. The nurse had been keeping time since they started CPR. "Three minutes," she told the paramedics.
Josh continued compressions until they loaded the woman in, slammed shut the back doors, sped away.
As the sirens faded, his thoughts settled. <i>My knees are soaked with gasoline. It's almost Thanksgiving.</i> He'd lost his grandfather just before the holidays a few years back. He remembered how hard that was for him and his family. <i>Man, I hope she makes it.</i>
He got back into his Honda Civic and called his wife.
The next morning, Josh scanned the paper for a story about the accident. There it was, just one short story among many. The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries, it said. The other driver, the woman he had saved from the wreck of her car, was listed in critical condition.
At the park office days later, his phone rang. The police investigator on the line had more questions. The woman in the crash had died from massive internal injuries, he explained. There was a lot more to work out now that the accident involved a fatality.
The months passed, and then on June 5, 2009, Josh got a surprise: He received the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District's life-saving award from District Engineer Col. Tom Chapman, among friends and colleagues at the Englebright Lake park office.
Presented for courage and skill, the award is reserved for the most exceptional service performed by the District's park rangers.
Englebright Park Manager Doug Grothe says Josh's actions are a model for the park ranger profession. "Josh's efforts that day are a clear indication of his commitment to helping others," Grothe says. "He's a dedicated first responder, and a reminder that as public servants, we're always on duty, even when we're not at work. We're all disappointed and saddened that the accident victim didn't survive, but Josh did everything right. He gave her the best chance at survival she could have had, and that's why he's being honored with this award."
"It feels good to be recognized," said Josh after the ceremony. "But it's sad that it's under these circumstances. And I know anyone else would have done the same thing."
Looking down at his hands, he went on.
As an emergency medical responder, "Every death sticks with you," he said.
"Driving by the scene now, it brings it back for me," he continued. "It's sad, but death is a part of life. You have to celebrate life. My one-and-a-half-year-old son, he reminds me of that every day. Death is always going to be there. Dealing with it is a part of us - it becomes who we are."