LOCAL NEWS

Washington State man giving back to Delta volunteer ambulance crew who saved his life

Aug 11, 2023, 10:49 PM | Updated: Aug 12, 2023, 3:54 pm

DELTA, Utah — A Washington State couple is giving back to a rural Utah ambulance crew who saved the husband’s life in the West Desert.

They’re fundraising for an important piece of equipment for the department, after being blown away by what the crew did for them.

On a retirement road trip through middle-of-nowhere, Utah in June, Ron Baker and Fay Lim decided to take a detour near Delta.

“Utah was kind of a last part of the journey. The last part of the puzzle was going out west of Delta to go hunt for fossils, at the U-Dig fossils place,” Baker explained, over a Zoom call Friday afternoon.

After spending a fun few hours in the dirt, they packed up to head toward their hotel room in Provo. But Baker began to feel a weird pain in his shoulder. Thinking he was just dehydrated and tired from digging, he brushed it off at first.

But as the couple took off on the dirt road in Baker’s truck, it was clear it wasn’t from being out in the sun.

“Within a few miles, I just told my wife, ‘I can’t drive anymore. I’ve got something going on here,'” Baker remembers.

He didn’t realize it, but Baker was having a heart attack.

Lim took over– she had never driven Baker’s giant Toyota Tundra before– and started to drive.

“It’s a beast, so I’m short. I’m barely looking over my steering wheel. There’s a high wind warning,” she recounted.

Being in the middle of the West Desert, the couple found themselves without service and unsure how to get help.

“Where’s the hospital? I’m lost. I have no idea how to get there,” Lim said, of what she told two passersby they crossed on the dirt road.

Finally finding service, the couple called 911 on the highway.

A Millard County EMS team, made up of EMTs Cindy Staples and Brad Williams, and ambulance driver Cherish Works, found the couple about 15 miles outside Delta.

Ron Baker ambulance 08/11/2023

Firefighters and EMTs load Baker from the ambulance to a plane bound for Provo (Fay Lim)

At first, Baker was doing okay. But his condition deteriorated within minutes of loading onto the stretcher.

“He was dying, on his way to being completely dead,” Staples said.

The two performed CPR on Baker continuously for miles, and said they shocked his heart, twice.

“His heart was just kind of quivering, and couldn’t feel the pulse,” Williams said.

While they said he didn’t technically flatline, the two paramedics indicated that Baker appeared he might not make it.

“He kind of shook a little bit and his face turned really purple. And then he was kind of out,” Staples said. Brad continued, “Eyes were open, but nobody was home.”

They managed to keep Baker alive, reaching Delta Community Hospital. Baker needed to be transferred to a larger medical center. The ambulance crew again loaded him up and took him out to a fixed-wing aircraft bound for Utah Valley Hospital in Provo.

Cherish Works, who drove Baker in the ambulance, approached his wife and asked if she could drive Lim up to Provo.

“I didn’t want her to be alone, somewhere she’s never been,” Works explained.

Her husband ended up driving Baker’s Toyota Tundra the 90 miles from Delta to Provo, with Works driving up later to pick her husband up and take him back.

“I mean, who does that?” Lim wondered, amazed by the help from these complete strangers. “We’re talking 90 minutes route one-way. I mean, that’s ridiculous. But, they did it.”

Totally shocked by the kindness of the small-town team, the couple would be in for an even bigger surprise the next day.

At that point, Baker had gone through surgery with three new stents in his heart.

“And they showed up in my room,” he said, talking about Works and another EMT. “They’re like, ‘You don’t understand.’ They said, ‘You’re a miracle.’ And I didn’t understand it.”

Works, glad that Baker was alive, wanted to see how their West Desert patient was doing.

“I jumped right in and got a hug. I’m a hugger,” she said, with a smile.

Baker couldn’t believe upon finding out that the whole crew is made up of volunteers who didn’t get paid to save him– or visit him up in Provo.

“I told my wife, I said, ‘You know, we got to do something for these people. They saved my life,'” Baker said, getting choked up as he spoke.

Baker thumbs up 08/11/2023

Baker gives a thumbs up after surgery with a visit from the Delta ambulance crew (Fay Lim)

With tears in his eyes, Baker explained that they decided to raise money through GoFundMe* for a mechanical CPR machine for the all-volunteer department. The workers talked about how they wouldn’t have the funds to purchase one themselves, and how it would help save lives because it automatically administers CPR during the long distances the crew often has to drive.

“Absolutely. Because we go out to the West Desert a lot for ATV accidents or car accidents,” Works explained.

She’s also organizing a fundraiser for the department in general, which is on August 23 at Territorial Statehouse Park in Fillmore from 5 to 8 pm– exemplifying the need for resources.

With this specific piece of equipment, Baker and Lim hope to give back and save someone else’s life, just like the EMTs saved his.

“That’s why we’re doing this. It’s just total appreciation,” Baker said.

Works and the ambulance crew expressed that the appreciation and gratitude go both ways.

“We love him,” Works said, of Baker. “Him and Fay are amazing people.”

From a small town in the middle of nowhere, Utah, a connection has been forever formed at the center of Ron Baker’s heart.

“The level of caring on the part of these people was unbelievable,” Baker said. “These people were heroes.”

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Washington State man giving back to Delta volunteer ambulance crew who saved his life