2 Utah Department of Corrections workers credited for helping during medical emergencies

Feb 28, 2024, 6:33 PM | Updated: Feb 29, 2024, 6:23 am

GUNNISON — State Route 28 between Gunnison and Nephi is a road Mike Jennings knows well.

He lives in Juab County, but works as a case manager at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. So, he is used to the drive.

“It is a long, straight stretch of road,” Jennings said.

Since he has driven that stretch of road countless times, Jennings knows when there is just something different during his commute.

Mike Jennings and John Martinez talk about their experience in helping get an 85-year-old woman and an EMT to the hospital. (Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)

“I knew that those headlights shouldn’t be out in that field,” he said. “So, I just stopped to see what was going on.”

That vehicle was roughly 40 yards off the road and turned around.

It appeared like the driver had lost control in the snowy weather.

Just as Jennings was getting out of his vehicle, one of his colleagues at the prison, Lt. John Martinez, also stopped after seeing those headlights.

“I didn’t know Jennings was there,” Martinez said. “As I was getting off the road and getting ready to put it in park, he gets out and I see his shoulder patch and I was like, cool, we got another one of us there.”

They both went to the car to see if everyone was OK.

As it turns out an 85-year-old woman had slid off the road and needed help.

“I asked her how she was feeling and she immediately said her neck and her back were hurting,” Martinez said.

They called 911 and when the Juab County ambulance arrived with two EMTs, they all helped get the woman inside.

A vehicle driven by an 85-year-old woman went off the road on state Route 28. Utah Department of Corrections workers John Martinez and Mike Jennings stopped to help. When paramedics arrived on scene, an EMT had a medical emergency changing the entire situation for Martinez and Jennings. (Mike Jennings and John Martinez)

The moment things changed

That’s when everything changed.

“One of the EMTs had a medical emergency and collapsed right in the middle of the highway,” Jennings said.

“It startled me,” Martinez said. “I looked over at him and he was already laid out on the road.”

They helped him up, but he collapsed again.

Martinez caught him.

Even though Jennings and Martinez both have first aid training from the prison, they knew this situation was different.

They helped get the EMT into the ambulance next to the woman. However, since policy is to have an EMT in the back with a patient, it meant someone else had to drive.

Getting the victims to the hospital

Jennings volunteered to drive the ambulance.

“I have driven lots of cars,” he said. “I mean, it’s not, just put it in drive, push the gas, put your seat belts on, lights and sirens going, and people had to get out of my way.”

Martinez followed them.

At one point, Jennings had to slow down because he didn’t realize how bumpy it can get in the back of the ambulance.

Utah Department of Corrections worker Mike Jennings drove an ambulance to the hospital after and an EMT had a medical emergency after responding to a call for help from an 85-year-old woman. (Mike Jennings and John Martinez)

However, he got them to the hospital.

They even met another Juab County ambulance crew in Levan to transfer one of the patients.

The woman who they first stopped to help is doing better and was joking with the medical team as they were putting her in the ambulance.

The EMT is still recovering but is expected to be OK, and hopes to be cleared to help on the ambulance again.

As for Jennings and Martinez, they are being credited for going above and beyond.

“We are glad that we were in the right place and we were able to help,” Martinez said.

“It’s just what you do, right? It is what you are supposed to do,” Jennings said. “If somebody needs help, you stop and help them.”

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2 Utah Department of Corrections workers credited for helping during medical emergencies