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Post subject: Local Firefighter & Deputy to receive Life Saver Awards
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Joined: Feb 22, 2012 2:06 pm
Location: Conifer, Colorado
Denver: February 11, 2012, Scott Prestwood of Indian Rocks Beach, Florida is enjoying a day of shopping and sight seeing in Denver. Around 4:30pm he decides to drive to a friend’s home in the foothills. He loads his purchases into his Nissan SUV, activates the navigation system, and pulls up “favorite places” on the screen. Scott choses an address and pulls away from the curb.
Mr. Prestwood doesn’t know it, but things are about to go terribly wrong. These will be his last lucid moments before an event that will change his life forever.
Scott makes his way out of the city and onto Highway 285. Drivers, who share the road with his SUV, report that Scott suddenly slows well below the speed limit. Then the SUV veers wildly, first left, slamming into the concrete barrier that divides the highway and sliding along it, metal screaming, sparks flying. Then right, careening across both lanes of traffic to skid along the jagged rock face that boarders the highway. Shocked motorists look on in horror as Scott’s Nissan bounces back and forth across the road, leaving skid marks and pieces of shredded metal in its wake. At Raven’s Gulch the road makes a hard left turn, which Scott’s SUV does not. His vehicle goes off the road, bumps through the ditch and comes to rest in a grove of Aspen trees.
Motorists stop to help, they find the driver unconscious, slumped over the steering wheel. Witnesses place panicked calls to 911.
As Scott Prestwood is pulling up his list of favorite places, Mark Becker is leaving work. Mark is a supervisor for a security firm in Denver. When he isn’t at his job in the city, he serves as a volunteer firefighter, holding the rank of lieutenant with the Elk Creek Fire Department in Conifer. Lieutenant Becker is running late. He prides himself on being punctual, especially on nights when he’s the command officer.
Becker takes 285 north toward Conifer. He’s been in the fire and emergency medical services for years, and like anyone with his training; he notices things others might not. As he negotiates the winding road near Morrison, he begins to see skid marks and signs of impact along the concrete divider. Still focused on getting to the station before his shift begins, Mark logs this information away in the back of his mind, and presses on through traffic.
As Becker rounds the turn at Raven’s Gulch he sees the Nissan SUV off the road. Several motorists are out of their vehicles, standing near the wreck. Mark sizes up the scene. The Nissan is upright, and although there is extensive body damage, it doesn’t appear to have been a violent crash. Mark knows that with the attention the wreck has received from passers-by, emergency medical personnel will already be in route.
This accident isn’t in Lieutenant Becker’s fire district, it isn’t his responsibility, and he is running late. But he can’t bring himself to drive on without first seeing if the driver needs help.
He stops, gathers his radio, and medical bag, and approaches the crash. He speaks with bystanders who tell him how the Nissan suddenly slowed, and then pin-balled it’s way through the canyon before coming to rest where it now sits.
Mark approaches the driver and finds him to be unconscious and unresponsive. He forces the damaged door open and gives the driver a cursory examination. Scott Prestwood is not breathing, has no heartbeat and his skin has taken on a bluish pallor. Scott Prestwood is clinically dead.
Without hesitation Becker cuts the driver’s seat belt and pulls Mr. Prestwood out. He lays him beside the vehicle and checks again for pulse and respiration. Finding none, he adjusts his radio to the Indian Hills Fire Department frequency and calls for help. Mark recommends a “chopper go!” Scott Prestwood’s situation is dire.
Mark begins cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). From his medical kit he produces a bag-valve-mask and starts mechanical ventilation, forcing air into Scott Prestwood’s lungs. He works urgently, but with the control that comes from experience and training.
Meanwhile Jefferson County Sheriffs Deputy Wade Fleckstiener is also making his way up 285. He has been dispatched to a report of a motor vehicle accident at Turkey Creek, several miles beyond Mark’s location. As he approaches Raven’s Gulch he sees the accident. Officer Fleckstiener stops, radios dispatch to advise that he has been diverted, and runs to see if he can be of assistance. When he reaches Becker and his patient, Fleckstiener knows what needs to be done. Officer Fleckstiener kneels and begins chest compressions, forcefully pressing and releasing Scott’s chest, manually pumping his still heart.
At set intervals, Becker and Fleckstiener check to see if the patient’s heart has restarted. Several times they feel a weak pulse, but then it fades away.
Soon more help arrives. Law enforcement stops traffic on Southbound 285 to create an impromptu landing zone. A Life Flight helicopter swoops down into the canyon, setting down on the black top to receive the patient. Scott Prestwood is whisked away into the helicopter and flown to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Littleton.
The following day Scott Prestwood will wake in a hospital bed, with no idea where he is, or how he got there. He has suffered a heart attack. He has no memory of the drive from Denver or the accident. His last recollection of February 11, 2012, is punching in his friend’s address in the navigation system of his SUV.
He does however wake with one haunting image, something he brought back from that place between life and death. Scott recalls lying on his back. His father, Louis Marion Prestwood Jr., a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel (who passed away in 2008), is kneeling over him. Scott senses other people behind his father looking on, but can’t see them clearly. The senior Mr. Prestwood is angry; he scolds his son, “Just relax! Stop fighting! Don’t be a know it all, they’re going to save you if you’ll just let them!” And Scott Prestwood does stop fighting and allows himself to be saved.
On April 27, 2012, Scott Prestwood came to the Jefferson County Sheriffs office in Evergreen to meet the men responsible for saving his life. When he arrived, Jeffco Sheriff’s Officer Sergeant Jennifer Schwartz made introductions. The Jeffco photographer posed the men for a photo, and then Mr. Prestwood, Deputy Fleckstiener and Lieutenant Becker sat and talked quietly.
Mr. Prestwood says he feels as if he’s received a new lease on life. He feels good and he’s planning for his future. Becker and Fleckstiener for their part, say they are happy to have been of service, but feel they were only doing their duty.
However, despite their humility, Becker and Fleckstiener’s superiors feel these men acted in an exemplarity manner. Lieutenant Becker and Deputy Fleckstiener will be presented Life Saver awards at a ceremony to be held at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Facility, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado, at 3:00pm, May 17, 2012. Mr. Scott Prestwood will be in attendance.
For information contact: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Public Information Officer, Mark Techmeyer at 303-271-5602, or Elk Creek Fire Department, Public Information Officer, Michael Davis at 303-816-9385.
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