They’ve been called everything from heroes and champions of the community to protectors of patients. While these titles are often backed with a genuine spirit of gratitude by the people who express them, many in the EMS profession would respond to these descriptors with the simple statement, “I was just doing my job.”
Why so low-key, you ask? Probably because many EMS first responders don’t necessarily view their skills as abilities that are laced with some sort of superhuman power, but rather learned and expert capabilities that, when combined with being at the right place at the right time, can save lives.
Ian Carroll is one of these first responders.
The flight nurse with Air Evac Lifeteam (AEL), a Global Medical Response (GMR) company, was recently recognized as one of GMR’s 2023 Stars of Life — the American Ambulance Association’s (AAA) top honor for EMS first responders who demonstrate extraordinary service. Carroll was presented the award for his role in two separate lifesaving situations: One involving a patient whose vehicle went off into a river and another involving a patient injured in a mining truck accident.
“Ian is a true EMS professional,” said Marty Hurley, base manager for AEL in Logan, West Virginia, where Carroll is based. “In both incidents, Ian intervened to save those patients lives.”
The first incident happened when Carroll was off duty, sitting in his car at an intersection. That’s when he saw another vehicle run through the same intersection and into the nearby river. Carroll quickly left his car, jumped into the river and pulled the driver out of the sinking vehicle and onto the shore. He then stabilized the patient as more help arrived.
In the second situation for which he was honored as a Star of Life, Carroll entered a crashed haul vehicle and administered a blood transfusion to an injured driver whose leg was bleeding profusely. While fire personnel worked to extricate the individual from the truck, Carroll realized more blood was needed, so he called for another AEL aircraft to deliver additional blood products. That call would end up being a critical factor in helping save the patient’s leg and life.
In both cases, Carroll says his role in helping those patients came down to being prepared, willing to be available or just “being there” to step into those medical emergencies, regardless of being on the clock or not.
“EMS is one of the toughest jobs out there, primarily because you’re never really off duty,” said Carroll. “When someone needs your help, whether you’re on the job or not, if you’re in EMS, your first instinct is to stop whatever you’re doing and help that person.”