ST. GEORGE — Mesquite Fire crews had non-stop calls on Friday – including two critical incidents involving a downed skydiver with multiple fractures, followed by a motorist who suffered a severe stroke on Interstate 15 who was helped quickly by several Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and two critical care paramedics.
One of eight emergency calls was received shortly before noon, when fire crews from the Mesquite Fire Department were dispatched to a reported fall that took place near the Mesquite Airport on Kitty Hawk Way in Nevada – which is also where Mercy Air 11 medical transport helicopters are based.
Mesquite Fire Capt. Spencer Lewis said the call involved a man who was injured while parachuting in the area and happened to crash land very close to the airport.
Fire crews arrived to find the 40-year-old skydiver severely injured and bleeding with compound fractures to both of his legs, ankles and so on, Lewis said, and once he was stabilized he was loaded into the helicopter and flown to St. George Regional Hospital in serious condition.
Lewis said at the time of the incident, the parachuter, who was an experienced skydiver, was performing a “swoop maneuver” where they come in fast and then hovers above the ground at a high rate of speed for an extended period of time before landing – an exercise that leaves very little room for error.
Lewis also said a skydiver can be traveling very quickly, as fast as 20-30 mph, as they hover above the ground.
While doing so, Lewis said, the injured diver did not have enough lift and his legs got caught up in something on the ground. From there, he took a catastrophic tumble during the landing.
Fortunately, the captain said, the crash landing took place so close to Mercy Air “so once they got him packaged up, they flew him to the hospital and he was alive when they got there,” Lewis said.
Two more emergency calls came in for Mesquite but it was the third call that sent emergency crews to northbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 115 to assist on a report of an erratic driver who appeared to have suffered a serious medical issue.
The vehicle was stopped by Nevada Highway Patrol troopers after the driver was reportedly weaving in and out of his travel lane and driving erratically as he headed north at 10 mph on the interstate.
That is when emergency dispatch began receiving multiple 911 calls reporting the incident. While en route to the scene, Lewis said that one of the first things troopers in Nevada did was they set up a “rolling roadblock” where a trooper reduces his speed and weaves back and forth across all travel lanes to slow traffic traveling behind the patrol vehicle.
This clears an area ahead of the trooper where the errant vehicle is located and places a great deal of distance between other drivers and a possibly dangerous situation. It also allows troopers enough space to get the vehicle stopped without placing the public at further risk.
A video depicting a rolling roadblock, also known as traffic break, courtesy of the Utah Department of Public Safety and can be viewed at the top of this report.
According to Lewis, once troopers were able to pull the car over, they noted there was something very wrong with the driver, who appeared to have lost all control of his facial muscles on the right side of his head, which can be a strong indicator of a stroke. It can also mean a loss of control to the right side of the body — the side needed to operate a motor vehicle.
“He had been driving for several miles and when our crews got there he had severe facial droop,” Lewis said, “which is a sign that he was having a very serious stroke.”
Mesquite Fire sent two critical care paramedics who arrived and treated the man with medication to mitigate the symptoms. He was loaded into the ambulance and ground-transported to St. George Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.
A ground transport was more efficient in this case, Lewis said, since the northbound side of the interstate was shut down during the incident which created an unobstructed path to the hospital.
The two calls outlined in this report were only two of eight emergency medical calls that came in within a three-hour period starting shortly after 10:30 on Friday. “It was non-stop,” Lewis said.
This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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