A little boy's life was saved against the odds

Saturday , July 19, 2014 - 9:13 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

MORGAN -- Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't stop.

That's what Blake Nelson kept hearing in his mind over and over again on the morning of Oct. 12.

Don't stop.

The Ogden Regional Medical Center emergency room nurse was off duty that day, so he and his wife decided to go to his mom's house to grab a few pumpkins to carve for Halloween.

Then he saw the lights and sirens fly by.

"Morgan is a small town so when you see the cops flying down the street with their lights and sirens going you obviously wonder where they're headed," Nelson said.

Nelson turned the car around and followed. When he arrived at the scene, he noticed a woman slumped over a little boy. She was administering CPR.

"I flew into the driveway and got out and told the policeman I was a registered nurse and asked if I could help," Nelson said. "He looked at me like, 'Duh' so I took over and started doing compressions. He was very cold and he was all wet. I knew I was dealing with a drowning but I couldn't figure out where he got all wet and cold."

The little boy was 2-year-old Augustus "Gus" Morgan. He had been visiting his grandparents that day and decided he wanted to go swimming by himself without telling anyone, said his mother, Dusty Morgan. His grandmother noticed his absence right away and began calling for him.

Then she found him. Floating face down in a horse's slough. After getting him out of the mud and up to the main road, she called for help.

"We couldn't feel a pulse," Nelson said. "So he either didn't have one or his heart was beating very slow. We had no idea how long he had been in the water. It wasn't a cold day but he was just ice cold. His body temperature was only 84 degrees."

Nelson said he knew more help was coming, but it seemed like forever before they would arrive.

"You know they're coming and you know it was just a matter of minutes before they arrived, but when you're in the middle of the situation, it just seems like time goes by so slowly," Nelson said. "I heard the Morgan ambulance coming and I breathed a huge sign of relief. They jumped out with all this equipment and started working on him."

A heart monitor showed the electrical part of Gus' heart was firing, but the muscle itself was not moving. Nelson continued administering compressions.

"I just heard this voice in my head telling me, 'Don't stop Don't stop Don't stop' so I kept giving him compressions.“

At around the same time, Ogden Rescue 5 paramedics Ryan Becraft and Jered Hawkes were at McKay-Dee Hospital when they heard the call come in over dispatch.

"We weren't actually dispatched but we heard the call come in so we self-dispatched," Becraft said. "When we got there we started assisting in efforts to resuscitate the little boy. It was a very stressful situation. We were trying to comfort the family as well. Not long after we arrived Airmed got there."

Pilot Bennett Browning landed the helicopter in the field right next to the house, Nelson said, and it wasn't very long before flight nurse Nicole Milne and paramedic Jeff Larsen were able to get Gus's heart going again. They flew the little boy to Primary Children's Medical Center. No one on the ground knew whether he would make it there alive.

But he did.

"He was in intensive care over two weeks," said mother Dusty Morgan. "He was at the hospital for almost three months. Now he does do outpatient therapy and he works really hard every day. He basically had to start over and learn how to blink, swallow, talk, walk, but he has come a long way. He's pretty much back to normal. In fact, he's more than back to normal."

Morgan said the decisions of everyone involved that day gave her son the best possible chance to survive.

Nelson said his survival is nothing short of a miracle.

"He's still here. That's what's amazing. He should be deceased 10 times over. He should no longer be with us," an emotional Nelson said. "There were so many miracles that happened that day. I had just finished a pediatric medical course the week before so everything was fresh on my mind. His grandmother said when she went to get him out of the water she got stuck and couldn't get out of the mud."

Nelson said she told him she instantly thought of her dad who has been deceased and she prayed to him. At about the same time, she felt something pull her and her grandson out of the water.

In addition, Nelson said, the pilots were given the wrong coordinates but the pilot had no trouble finding the location.

"Miracles still happen," Nelson said. "I have no doubt there was heavenly intervention that day on top of the amazing help from all of the rescue workers."

Last week, the Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness paid tribute to those who assisted in Gus's rescue. The award for Outstanding Performance in a Rural Emergency Medical Incident was given to Nelson, Ogden Area 911 dispatch, Morgan County Ambulance, Ogden Fire Department, AirMed and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.

"It was exhilarating to see him and know everything was going to be OK," Becraft said. "We visited him several times in the hospital and followed him throughout his recovery. There are times where you aren't able to make a difference, but when you do, you have this special place for these people in your head and mind forever and it's just so rewarding. Gus is truly a walking miracle. He is truly a walking miracle. He definitely has a reason for being here today."

Morgan Ambulance supervisor Terry Turner said Gus is Morgan's miracle.

"You see things like this happen in the big city but to have it happen in Morgan and have such a good ending is way exciting for us," Turner said. "We were there shortly after the Morgan deputy and Blake Nelson arrived. When you see what's going on it really hits you at first, but then you have to quickly move past it and just focus on your job."

After Gus boarded the helicopter, Turner said he wasn't optimistic about the outcome.

"We thought it may not have a good ending," he said. "But from the dispatchers all the way to Primary Children's, everything came together like it should. Gus is supposed to be around. He has a purpose here. I don't know what that is, but it's obviously something big."

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