AED saves teen’s life on boat ramp

Boaters in the Snake River Canyon above Alpine. The 8.5-mile whitewater run is one of the most heavily floated waterways in America.

River rangers working with rafting guides saved the life of a 16-year-old who suffered a heart attack Friday in the Snake River Canyon.

The teen was part of a Boy Scout rafting trip from Rexburg, Idaho, according to Dave Cernicek, Bridger-Teton National Forest river manager. The group stopped at a jumping rock above Cottonwood Rapid when the boy complained of chest pain and collapsed. He had no pulse or breathing, and trip leaders began CPR while transporting him to the Sheep Gulch takeout about 1.5 miles downstream.

When the group reached the boat ramp, river rangers responded, assisted by guides from Dave Hansen Whitewater. The rangers used an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, to shock the teen’s heart and revived him. An ambulance arrived quickly from Alpine and transported the teen to the hospital.

The AED was paid for by the Snake River Fund, a nonprofit group dedicated to stewardship of the river. Since 2001, the fund, led by board member Ron Novak, has paid for AEDs to be installed at the West Table Creek and Sheep Gulch boat ramps (the main canyon access points), as well as below Three Oar Deal and Lunch Counter Rapid, two of the biggest hazards.

Too bad there are none at Moose, where elderly passengers frequently take float trips in Grand Teton National Park.

The AEDs were purchased at Cernicek’s suggestion, which is why he was named River Manager of the Year this spring by the River Management Society.

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Posted under Environment, Sports

6 Comments so far

  1. Greg August 3, 2010 4:08 pm

    Just an update (for those concerned.) I have a friend who knows the boy and he is doing better this afternoon after heart surgery. Should be back home in the next day or so. Thumbs up to Dave Cernicek as well as the river rangers. Tragedy avoided!

  2. Woolly August 3, 2010 9:24 pm

    Wow. Here’s hoping the guy has a full recovery. Congrats to all of the rescuers involved in this situation on what sounds like a job well done.

  3. Scott Bosse August 3, 2010 9:56 pm

    Very cool that the Snake River Fund literally saved a life by making the AEDs available to floaters in the canyon. Great recommendation, Dave.

  4. js August 3, 2010 10:31 pm

    The Snake River Fund also pays for the river rangers.

    Lunch Counter is a great place to have an AED because it seems people often get into trouble there. Another guide and I once fished out a guy having a heart attack after he had jumped into the rapid. Fortunately, help arrived before he lost consciousness.

  5. Brad August 4, 2010 8:11 pm

    This is a great story. A good ending all around. Kudos to everyone involved.

  6. Jo August 12, 2010 12:09 pm

    These are the success stories that make all the struggle worth it. Ditto to congratulating all those involved (particularly Snake River Fund) for their forethought.

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