2 medics honored for saving life while seriously injured

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two paramedics who kept a patient alive even after they were seriously injured in an ambulance crash have received the state’s highest life-saving honor.

Life EMS Ambulance paramedics Dan Degen and Rob Benson were named the 2016 Michigan EMS Practitioner of the Year. Normally the honor goes to one medic, but the Michigan EMS Practitioners Association decided to double the tribute this year.

On July 1, Degen and Benson were on M-37 near Sparta en route to Gerber Memorial Hospital when their ambulance was hit head-on by a vehicle. The crash killed the other driver, Douglas Westra of Newaygo. The ambulance driver had multiple leg fractures.

Despite their serious injuries, the pair of paramedics continued to treat their patient, keeping her stable until additional help arrived.

Aero Med seen leaving the scene of a crash near Sparta involving an ambulance. (July 1, 2015)
Aero Med seen leaving the scene of a crash near Sparta involving an ambulance. (July 1, 2015)

“Their ability to provide highly skilled care after being seriously injured themselves kept this patient alive and ultimately led to her successful discharge, following cardiac catheterization,” said Jeff Stockhill, northern Michigan operations supervisor for Life EMS Ambulance.

“This was an extraordinary circumstance, with an extraordinary response and outcome to a truly tragic event. We are proud of their skills, professionalism and patient focus at all times,” added Mark Meijer, founder and president of Life EMS Ambulance:

Degen and Benson estimate they’ve saved dozens of lives during their careers.

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