A hiker stranded by a broken leg in a remote part of California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest acted as a doctor first, and a patient second, when the paramedic who flew in to rescue him last week was struck in the head by a helicopter blade.
Dr. Jeremy Kilburn, an Air Force pulmonologist from Las Vegas, was hiking with a friend in a rugged section of the park near Big Bear Lake when he broke his leg and injured his ankle, according to the California Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol sent two officers in a medevac to the area.
But when Officer Brian Henderson and paramedic Officer Tony Stanley arrived, the mission took an unexpected turn, one that would require Kilburn -- who had served as a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan -- to draw on his medical training.
Kilburn did not return requests for an interview from msnbc.com. But Dan Grasso, Kilburn's lifelong friend and hiking partner, described last Thursday's hike for the first time on Monday to The San Jose Mercury News. He said as the chopper's rotors slowed, the blades began to sag. One of them hit paramedic Stanley -- who was underneath the blades -- in the back of the head.
Stanley collapsed, unconscious, instantly. Blood was coming from his shattered skull, reported The Mercury News. "I knew that for him to have a chance of surviving, I would have to get Jeremy to him," Grasso, of Sunnyvale, Calif., told the paper.
Grasso helped Kilburn hop 50 yards down the hill, where Kilburn hooked Stanley up to oxygen and put pressure on his wound, Grasso told The Mercury News.
"Thanks to the assistance they provided, Tony is alive today," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a press release. "I cannot even imagine the pain Dr. Kilburn was in, unable to walk ... Without regard to his own injuries and pain, Dr. Kilburn performed critical life-saving steps."
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