First Responders Recognized for Rapid Response 

CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK, June 2, 2023- First responders and park rangers were honored for their quick, professional response when a visitor to Carlsbad Caverns National Park suffered a stroke. 

Employees with the Carlsbad Fire Department and Carlsbad Caverns National Park were recognized in a special ceremony held at 9 a.m. June 2 at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor’s Center. Trans Aero MedEvac hosted the ceremony, which was open to the public. 

According to Mike Buldra, Clinical Services Manager with Trans Aero, the incident took place in April and required an evacuation from the underground at the cave. Carlsbad’s Fire Department was dispatched to the park, where they assisted NPS Rangers with stabilizing the patient.

“Trans Aero is certainly proud of our people and the skills they use every day,” said Kevin Shields, the company’s president. “The cooperative effort between the different entities involved in this is a testament to everyone’s professionalism, and we hope that the patient and their family are doing very well.” 

The patient was then flown to University Medical Center in El Paso by Trans Aero MedEvac. The patient arrived in El Paso within 90 minutes of the onset of their symptoms.

“This was phenomenal care,” Buldra said. “Every minute of delay in providing definitive care increases the damage to the brain.  The goal is to have the patient to advanced care within three hours. This patient was there in half that time, and that was after being evacuated from almost 1,000 feet underground.”

Buldra said such a quick response would not have been possible without the exceptional performance of the NPS Rangers and CFD personnel, along with the critical communication of the REDA Communication Specialist who took the emergency call. 

“In this particular case, thanks to the early recognition of stroke signs by park rangers and first responders, 911 was immediately called and the patient was airlifted to University Medical Center of El Paso,” said Carla Escobar, Administrative Director of Neuroscience with the University Medical Center of El Paso. “Ultimately, the quick action by pre-hospital first responders and the stroke team at UMC led to an improved patient outcome.”

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway praised everyone involved in the effort. 

“Our first responders save lives on a daily basis, but this is a perfect example of training and cooperation making a difference in a situation where every second matters. Events of this nature require coordination and facilitation by the entire team. Thanks to the entire staff at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and to all first responders.”  

Individuals assisting with April rescue effort included:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Personnel: 

Heather Hyde, EMTB, Law Enforcement Ranger

Carolyn Elliott, EMTB, Law Enforcement Ranger

Richard “Rick” Taylor, EMR, Park Guide

Carlsbad Fire Department Personnel: 

LT Richard Ramirez, EMT-P

LT Jesse Ramirez, EMT-I

FF Anthony Briceno, EMT-P

Eddy County Fire and Rescue Personnel: 

Battalion Chief: David Watson, EMT-P

Captain: Matthew Dawson EMT-P

Firefighter: Angel Martinez

Firefighter: Taylor Montoya

REDA Dispatchers:

Cristina Vega 

Joah James,

Kirstene Campbell

Megan Headrick 

Trans Aero MedEvac:

Warren Shaulis, Flight Nurse Practitioner

Vanessa Berger, Flight Paramedic

Maximilian Mayr, Pilot

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