BOUNTIFUL - South Davis Metro Fire Capt. Richard Alley and his ambulance crew had just finished responding to a young boy who was critically injured when a power line fell on him while he was playing on his backyard swing set.
"We cleared from the first call, stopped to get a drink at a convenience store, got back (into the ambulance) and, sheez, here we go again. What's going on here?" Alley asked himself.
Tuesday afternoon and evening, Alley along with members of his ambulance crew, fire department and Bountiful police, were called to three incidents of children being critically injured, all within four hours of each other, and all in Bountiful. Alley and his crew responded to all three incidents.
"The thoughts that go through your mind ? 'Why? What is the deal with everyone being so young today? And back to back,'?" he said. Although emergency workers say it's their job to respond to any situation that comes their way, officials admit Tuesday was difficult and out of the ordinary, even for them.
The first accident happened just after 5 p.m. A 2-year-old boy, was playing on his swing set at his aunt's house near 3900 South and 700 West, when a tree branch broke off, hit the power line and knocked it onto the boy. Investigators believe the wire hit the boy's shoulder where there was an entry wound, and the jolt of electricity then exited his feet, said Bountiful Police Lt. Randy Pickett. Rescue crews were able to negotiate around the power line and get to the boy before the power was turned off. He was flown by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center and then transferred to the burn unit at University Hospital.
About an hour later, Bountiful emergency crews were called to a home near 900 East and 1200 North where a 1-year-old boy was critically injured when he was accidently run over in his own driveway by a pickup truck driven by a relative. The toddler was thought to be in the bathtub, but the boy had recently learned how to open doors and had gotten out without anyone noticing, Pickett said. The boy also had a fascination with the truck and its wheels and was standing next to it when the vehicle started to back out. "Nobody saw the little boy," Pickett said. The child suffered severe head injuries.
Just after 9 p.m., crews were called to a third incident in Bountiful at a backyard pool near 1000 East and 250 South. A 3-year-old girl was spotted at the bottom of the pool unconscious and not breathing. Officials estimate she had been there at least a minute. Paramedics happened to be nearby, just finishing up another call, said South Davis Metro Fire District Chief Jim Rampton, and were able to get to the child quickly. They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until a medical helicopter arrived, and by the time she was loaded into the helicopter, she was breathing and crying again, Pickett said.
All three victims were reported to be in critical but stable conditions Wednesday and all were expected to recover, he said.
Emergency workers are used to going on calls involving tragic accidents with children. But even a scenario like what happened Tuesday night can have an impact. "No matter who you are, it takes a toll when it involves kids," Pickett said. "It left everybody wondering about what was going to happen next."
For emergency crews who have their own children, the tragic accidents hit a little closer to home. "It's rough," said Alley, who has a 2-year-old child. "It's not something you don't think about. I came home and looked at the proximity of my swing set to just about anything that (could cause injury)." But the captain said he and others are able to get right back on the job. He was back on duty at 6 a.m. Wednesday. "We watch them," Rampton said of his emergency responders. "Certainly counseling is available if they need it. Definitely, it takes a big toll on you emotionally.
Everyone associates, 'What if it was one of my kids?' The big positive thing my guys are taking away is, as of right now, there were no deaths. It's such a huge emotional roller coaster for them. But this is what we do. This is what we train for." Talking with other police and firefighters usually works best, Rampton said. As of Wednesday, he did not have anyone who had requested to see a crisis counselor. "It doesn't just get dropped then. We make sure they're all doing well.
Mental health is huge for us and making sure we can still continue to do that job," Rampton said. One of the 911 dispatchers working for Bountiful police that night, David Gill, handled two of the three calls. "He did a great job," Pickett said. Although the boy's being burned on the swing set was a freak accident, officials say that in light of Tuesday's accidents, and another in West Valley City this week in which a young boy was burned badly while playing with gasoline and a lighter, they want to remind parents to be careful this summer.
"Kids are quick. You have to pay attention to what they're doing all the time," Pickett said. "Know what's going on. Be involved in what they're doing," added Rampton. "In most of these accidents, there were (adults) around. It's just a reminder things can happen so quickly without any warning." For Alley, he said that after he got off work Wednesday, he planned on spending the day with his children, working outside in his garden.
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