Wyoming Pathways Chairman, Bruce Burrows Helps Save Life of Heart Attack Victim – Demonstrates the Value of First Aid Training Out On the Trail

From WYDOT Interchange Magazine – July 2017 (download the article in PDF format)


Heart attack survivor David Taylor and his wife, Maureen.

Bruce Burrows’ retirement has been anything but boring so far.

Since he ended his 36-year WYDOT career on Jan. 29, Burrows has been traveling the country to various skiing, mountain biking and blues festival destinations, and now has added helping save a life to his experiences.

He was volunteering as an adult ride leader at the Stone Temple Mountain Bike Camp in Curt Gowdy State Park west of Cheyenne on Wednesday, June 15, when a call came in for a nurse to come to Hynds Lodge to treat a knee injury to one of the cyclists.

Amy Dickerson, a registered nurse from Arvada, Cola, who also was helping out with the camp, needed someone to show her the trail to the lodge and Burrows volunteered.

What started out as a routine call for first aid turned into an emergency about a mile from the lodge.

“We just came around a corner and here’s a guy laying on the ground, obviously having a heart attack, writhing in pain and clutching his chest: Burrows recalled. “He’d been riding and had felt ill, got off his bike, vomited and felt better briefly, and then all of the sudden he started having terrible, terrible pain. His wife realized what was happening and called 911.”

In the first stroke of luck that would help save David Taylor’s life, his heart attack occurred in an area of the park that happened to have cell phone coverage. The second was the call from the lodge for first aid that resulted in a nurse with emergency room experience, and Burrows, who had CPR training when he worked as a Ski Patrol volunteer, being on the same trail.

Burrows estimates they arrived only minutes into the attack.

“We were concerned he was going to arrest: he said. “He was hurting so bad, but he was talking. Eventually, as we feared, he did stop breathing and had no pulse.”

Dickerson began CPR and Burrows, who has spent years rid-ing and helping build the trails in the park, was on the phone with 911 to help guide the ground and helicopter ambulances to the location.

When Dickerson got tired, Burrows stepped in to continue the CPR. He estimates they performed CPR for about 15 minutes before the ground ambulance crew arrived.

“Talk about just a desperate, frantic, horrifying situation, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody: Burrows said. “It was an incredibly stressful moment, but you have to stay focused and rely on your training:

Waiting for help to arrive was excruciating.

“Eventually we could hear sirens and they would get louder and then they would get quieter: Burrows said. “Then I could hear the helicopter and I could see it and I was out in the field waving my arms to get their attention, but they had to circle sev-eral times to check out the landing site.”

The ground ambulance crew first took over CPR, and then shocked Taylor multiple times with an automated external defi-brillator to re-establish his heart rhythm.

Once the Life Flight helicopter from Cheyenne was able to land, Burrows said the work of the crew was impressive to watch. “It was just like out of the movies where they’re shooting people up with different cardiac drugs: he said. “They drilled a device into his leg, literally into the bone marrow, to pump in whatever they needed.”

Once Taylor was stabilized and on the helicopter, Burrows turned his attention to getting the victim’s wife, Maureen Taylor, to her vehicle and driving her to the hospital in Cheyenne.

At the hospital, they were told Taylor, 59, had 100 percent blockage to one of the arteries to the back side of his heart, but he had survived and would be in a medically induced coma for 24 to 48 hours with his body temperature lowered to help minimize any damage that might have occurred from the lack of blood to his brain while his heart was stopped.

The Taylor family had traveled to the state park from Ned-erland, Cola, so two of their daughters could participate in the mountain bike camp. Burrows assisted Maureen in getting her camper set up near the hospital and eventually transporting the children to Cheyenne and retrieving the bikes that had been abandoned on the trail during the emergency.

By the next morning, Maureen reported her husband was awake and talking. By Friday he was out of the intensive care unit, and he was released from the hospital June 19, just four days after his heart had stopped.

“It went from being this horrific nightmare to something pretty cool: Burrows said. “It was really awesome.”
He gives most of the credit for Taylor’s survival to Dickerson.

“If she hadn’t been there, I don’t believe he would have sur-vived: Burrows said. “The people at the hospital said the prompt CPR made the difference. My part of it was maybe five minutes. Everybody who showed up played an important role, and we also had a patient who had an extremely strong will to live:

Dickerson said it’s not common for people to survive a heart attack in such a remote location.

“To have a cardiac arrest that far from a hospital and live, the chances of survival are very low: she said. “It was a huge team effort and everyone involved were mountain bikers. Some days I wonder about humanity. Today I’m in awe and I’m so impressed.”
Burrows and Dickerson were able to meet Taylor before he left the hospital.

“He was hurting, but he’s just happy to be alive: Burrows said. “When he thanked us for saving his life, I told him, ‘A lot of people saved your life, man.:”

“It’s amazing: Taylor said from his home a week after his heart attack. “That could have been the end, if Bruce and Amy had not been there. You’ve got a good man there with Bruce. He’s got a big heart.”