Man, children grateful for paramedics' efforts

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— Joe Kish wakes up every day and is thankful he can see his three kids he is raising by himself.

He owes that gratitude to two local paramedics who have been working in the field for less than two years.

Kish, 46, almost left his three children orphaned after an August motorcycle accident on a mountain trail broke five of his ribs, his collarbone, scapula, punctured one of his lungs and damaged another.

A medical procedure rarely performed outside a hospital by the two paramedics saved Kish's life on that Aug. 27 afternoon.

"These two people did something that is extraordinary," said Kish of paramedics Jeanne Power and Brian Shively. "If they would not have known what to do, I would not be here. I owe them my life."

Kish was injured during an outing with his 17-year-old son, Travis.

"I had just bought two new motorcycles and I was trying to spend some quality time with my son," Kish said.

Kish and his son were riding the motorcycles along Forest Service Road 251 on Rabbit Ears Pass when he crashed.

"I remember I crashed the first time," he said. "I was joking about it with my son."

Kish, who has been riding motorcycles since he was a youth, got back onto the motorcycle to continue the ride.

"The next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital," he said. "I blacked out."

Kish wrecked a second time but this time did not get up. Travis was going to try to get his injured father to their vehicle so he could drive him to the hospital when a woman with a cellular phone came by and called for help.

"We where in the middle of nowhere on a dirt trail," Kish said. "Then this woman came out of the blue with a cellular phone. It is fate. It just was not my time, I guess."

Because of the wreck, Kish's right lung collapsed. The pressure of the injury also caused his heart to shift, putting pressure on his left lung.

Paramedics and firefighters took about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the scene.

"It was definitely a life-or-death situation," Shively said.

Because of the terrain, the ambulance was the only vehicle that could drive on the trail to reach Kish.

"We were a long way from the hospital, and we were on our own," Power said.

Once the two medics reached Kish, they found him in a lot of pain.

"He was conscious, but he could barely talk to us," Shively said. "He suffered multiple rib fractures. You could actually see the indentation of his ribs where they had damaged his lungs."

The two medics stabilized Kish and then put him in the ambulance.

As they were leaving the scene, Kish's condition got worse.

"His level of consciousness continued to decrease," Shively said. "He started to tell us he could not breath."

The two medics had the ambulance driver stop the vehicle less than a mile from the scene.

"We looked at each other," Shively said, referring to Power, "and we knew what we had to do."

With Kish's right lung collapsed, pressure from air and his heart started to collapse his left lung, Shively said.

The only way to save Kish's life was to perform a "needle decompression," Shively said.

Shively used an 8-inch-long needle that is a millimeter wide to relieve pressure in Kish's chest.

Shively inserted the needle between Kish's fourth and fifth ribs on his right side to let out air that had built up in his chest cavity, he said.

"You push the needle in there to relieve air pressure, so the lung can expand," Shively said.

Once the air was let out, the medics inserted a chest tube that has a valve to seal the hole.

The procedure is one that paramedics learn in training but is rare for them to actually do.

"It was a pretty amazing event for all of us," Power said. "It is something you learn how to do, but you don't know if you will ever use it. It is a life-saving skill, if you ever have to use it.

"Many paramedics will go throughout their career never doing this. Brian and I did this right out of the gate."

Power and Shively went to paramedic school together.

The procedure is rarely done because there are many hazards associated with it, she said.

"If there is blood built up in the chest cavity, a person can bleed to death, and the needle could also puncture the heart and damage artery and nerves," Power said.

Once the procedure was done, Kish's lung expanded and allowed him to breath again.

"I don't remember a thing," said Kish, a project manager for Summit Habitat. "The doctors told me I was moments from dying, and I was very lucky."

Shively agreed.

"He was very fortunate," he said. "In another 10-to-15 minutes, he would have stopped breathing."

After the accident, Power and Shively visited Kish in the hospital.

"It was emotional, but they told me what happened," Kish said.

Kish's injuries are healing and he has about another month left of rehabilitation.

He said believes he is fortunate because he did not know what would have happened to his three children, Delanie, 12, Chelise, 15, and Travis.

"It would have been pretty tough because the kids would have been on their own," he said. "Because of (Power and Shively) they still have a father."

Kish and his children have written letters to the two medics thanking them for what they did.

"I will always remember what they did for me, and my children will remember it also."

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail @amigo.net

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