BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — There were far more unknowns than knowns when an explosion rocked the Mojave Air & Space Port in California last summer.
They knew two people were dead and others were critically injured.
They didn’t know whether another explosion would happen.
Entering that chaotic situation were employees from Hall Ambulance. They treated and transported the injured and did their jobs like any other call.
Those employees, as well as two others who also excelled at emergency responder work throughout the year, will be honored at the California Ambulance Association’s Stars of Life program at the state Capitol in Sacramento. The event will be held Tuesday through Thursday.
Chris Beucher, a flight medic, said it was nice to receive accolades for his work. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians often go unrecognized, he said.
“TV portrays it as six months later you meet the victim in his backyard and have a barbecue,” Beucher said. “More often than not we take heat from people.”
In addition to Beucher, Hall employees Samuel Swanson, Heather Taylor, Sean Eddy, Brent Wible, Michael Knutson, Timothy Reynolds and Jeanette Green will be honored.
The explosion made international news.
Several said they had never responded to a scene that big. Eventually, investigators determined that the blast was caused by a flowing test of nitrous oxide conducted by Scaled Composites, a company working on SpaceShipTwo.
Two Scaled Composites employees died at the scene and a third died in intensive care after surgery.
Eddy, a paramedic field supervisor, said his duties that day included caring for patients, arranging for other resources, keeping control of the situation and talking to Scaled Composites employees devastated by the tragedy. Patient care mostly involved keeping airways open and bleeding under control.
Beucher said one patient was covered with little black carbon fibers sticking out of his body. He’d never seen anything like it.
Despite the attention the blast received, emergency responders deal with life-and-death situations every day, and it’s something they become accustomed to dealing with, Beucher said.
Swanson, who is being honored for his training of paramedics and EMTs, said nobody does the work for thanks or recognition.
“It’s an intrinsic thing that makes you do this job,” he said.
Paramedic Taylor, also being honored at the Capitol, received the most positive patient feedback comments throughout the year.
She said she just tries to make people as comfortable as possible and get them talking about something that interests them, such as their job or places they’ve traveled.
The job is difficult, but also very rewarding because they’re helping people every day.
“We see society at its worst,” Eddy said.
Swanson finished the quote.
“But we also get to see it at its best.”
Hall Ambulance staff who will be honored in Sacramento for their response to the explosion at the Mojave Air & Space Port, and other work:
Samuel Swanson, paramedic
Heather Taylor, paramedic
Sean Eddy, paramedic field supervisor
Brent Wible, paramedic
Michael Knutson, EMT
Timothy Reynolds, paramedic
Chris Beucher, flight medic
Jeanette Green, flight nurse