An EMS paramedic with WhidbeyHealth Medical Center was recently recognized for a feat of strength in helping a woman injured on a hike.
EMS Paramedic Nick Runions, a resident of Leavenworth, received a letter of commendation from Jason Armstrong, the area manager for Deception Pass State Park and its satellite parks.
Mary Anderson was on a hike on the Goose Rock Summit Trail, which is inside the park, and fell and broke her ankle and tore a ligament. She could not walk and Whidbey’s emergency medical services were called in.
“The trail is steep, with varied footing requirements and numerous switchbacks,” wrote Armstrong, “It was apparent the patient had sustained a notable ankle injury and would not be able to extricate herself.”
Onto the scene came Runions and his partner, EMT Tom Cross. Seeing that they would be unable to walk down the trail with the patient, which was not wide enough to accommodate two people side-by-side, Runions did some innovative thinking.
The paramedic fashioned a back strap in a way that enabled him to fix Anderson onto his back. He then climbed with her back up to the crest of the summit and safely down to the bottom of the trail.
Armstrong’s letter continued: “Mr. Runions exhibited a great deal of compassion and concern for the patient’s well-being. However impressive his compassion and people skills are, they would be overshadowed by his physical condition. Mr. Runions was able to carry the patient to safety by himself. This required a tremendous amount of strength and stamina, as he carried her nearly the entire trip from southeast of the summit to the parking lot at Deception Pass Bridge.
The estimated distance is approximately 1.5 miles.”
The letter was presented to Runions at an EMS staff meeting on June 14 by Roger Meyers, manager of WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services.
Anderson was thankful for the rescue.
“I have to express my profound gratitude to Nick and all of the other paramedics and park rangers that came to my aid,” she said. “I’m looking at an 8-12 week recovery period for a broken ankle and torn ligament.”
“I am quite sure that it would have been a worse scenario without them.”