Tribal Government & News
Grand Ronde Emergency Services employees honored for saving a life
By Dean Rhodes
WILLAMINA -- On Saturday, May 20, a man estimated to be in his 60s went to Spirit Mountain Casino, probably hoping to have the time of his life.
By 11:32 p.m., he was laying on the gaming room floor, suffering from sudden cardiac arrest and hoping that someone would save his life.
And, according to Tribal Emergency Services Chief Steve Warden, the odds of him surviving were not good. Well, at least based on Warden’s years of experience.
“In almost 50 years of public safety, I’ve seen three or four code saves where somebody has actually been in cardiac arrest in a non-hospital environment where it didn’t happen right in front of us and they’ve survived,” Warden said.
However, the quick response of medics and an engine from the Grand Ronde Fire Station, as well as backup from other Tribal Emergency Services personnel from the Willamina station, were able to shock the man’s heart with a defibrillator, administer drugs and get the man’s pulse and heart rhythm registering on a monitor. He was transported to Salem Hospital and discharged home two weeks later.
“This was the perfect mix of miraculous events,” Warden said during a Thursday, Aug. 17, ceremony held at Station 28 in Willamina.
Honored with certificates and engraved commemorative pens were Battalion Chief Sean Hoxie, Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician Jett Bales, Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician and Tribal member Dillon Gibbons, Firefighter/Paramedic Henry Heiser, Paramedic Geo Jacobo and Lieutenant/Emergency Medical Technician Cooper Walters.
From left, Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician Jett Bales, Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician and Tribal member Dillon Gibbons, Firefighter/Paramedic Henry Heiser, Battalion Chief Sean Hoxie, Firefighter/Paramedic Geovanni Jacobo and Lieutenant/Emergency Medical Technician Cooper Walters are honored during a ceremony at Station 28 in Willamina on Thursday, Aug. 17, for saving the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest at Spirit Mountain Casino on May 20. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)
Warden ran down the series of events before awarding the certificates and pens.
At 11:32 p.m., medics were called to a delta level -- high level -- emergency medical call at Spirit Mountain Casino. A customer had fallen on the gaming room floor. Medics and an engine arrived in slightly more than four minutes and quickly determined that the man was in cardiac arrest.
Hoxie, who was listening on the radio, also responded and requested Engine 28 from Willamina respond as well.
Heiser started life-saving measures while Walters and Gibbons began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the man. Bales placed an advanced airway in the man’s throat and upon arrival Hoxie assisted with administering medications. After 10 intense minutes, Tribal Emergency Services personnel were able to get a pulse and heart rhythm established.
Willamina personnel arrived and helped move the man to a waiting ambulance, which transported him to Salem Hospital. Jacobo rode with the ambulance crew to provide continuing advanced medical care.
“The amount of training, dedication and expertise our folks have in going on these … this is a big deal to me,” Warden said. “You guys make it all. We started this program in 2020 because the Tribe saw the need for high quality, professional, compassionate and caring emergency responders. This case here brings it all forward to us … it’s a testament to the dedication that you guys have shown.
“Every day we go out and do what’s above and beyond, and only sometimes do we have the perfect mix of miraculous events that we are able to assist in saving a life, and it feels pretty good.”
By all accounts, Warden added, the man is continuing on his path to recovery.
“And from what I understand is doing quite well,” Warden added.