Tour Bus Crash In Garfield County Just One Of Many Scenarios Volunteers Train For
PANGUITCH, Utah – Even in a rural area like Garfield County, it seems as if there’s a 911 call every day.
Of course, no matter how many calls come in, there will be someone ready to help. In Garfield County, that person will most likely be a volunteer — like Panguitch Fire Department Chief Dave Dobbs.
“Somebody has to do it; it needs to be done,” Dobbs said. “If we didn’t have any volunteers, we would be in big trouble.”
The county has several volunteers in firefighting, EMT, and law enforcement service, and they train constantly to help when those emergency calls come in.
On Sept. 20, the big call came.
“I’ve been doing this job for over 40 years, and that’s the worst one I’ve ever seen,” Dobbs said.
At approximately noon that day, a tour bus crashed on Highway 12 near Bryce Canyon National Park. Four people were killed and two dozen more were sent to several hospitals.
“It was catastrophic,” said Ron Harris, who volunteers as an EMT with Garfield County’s ambulance team. “We were on scene in six minutes from the time of the call.”
Harris is based in Bryce Canyon City and was able to respond quickly.
He was one of the first to arrive to the crash scene where there was wreckage, debris, and bodies all over the road.
“It took me back a second,” Harris said. “We train for it, and we’ve trained for it for a long time. We just started doing triage to get help for these people.”
Harris also volunteers with the Bryce Canyon City and Tropic fire departments.
“We could always use more help,” he said. “It’s been getting more difficult to recruit and keep volunteers. With as many visitors as we get here, we could always use the extra help when an emergency call comes in.”
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said he is thankful there are those willing to volunteer and drop everything to help.
“We wouldn’t be able to operate and do our daily business without our volunteers,” Perkins said. “Their employers deserve credit, too. They allow our volunteers to leave their jobs to help.”
The volunteers don’t it for money or fame. They do it because they care.
“These people are the ones that are getting up and leaving their homes and taking care of the heart attacks, the strokes, broken ankles, whatever,” Perkins said. “They respond to crashes and fire and anything that comes in. They’re so important to our county.”
Because of them, on everyday calls and calls like the one on Sept. 20, lives are saved.
“I have no doubt more people would have died last Friday if not for the quick, professional work of our volunteers,” Perkins said. “There’s a lot of people in this county that have saved life after life after life. And not everybody can say that. But I’ve got a whole bunch of volunteers that can.”
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