Ron Baker is raising money to better supply the volunteer EMTs who saved his life.
BOTHELL, Wash. — When Ron Baker and his wife Fay embarked on the trip of a lifetime, it soon led to a harrowing medical emergency and a new motivation to help others.
“The first thing the doctor said to me was I was one lucky son of a gun,” said Baker, who is from Bothell.
In five weeks, the couple traveled 8,000 miles across 13 states. But it was the last 50 miles of their trip that were the most memorable. Baker and his wife were in a remote part of western Utah digging for fossils when he started having chest pains.
“I went to call 911 and I realized there was absolutely no cell service where we were,” Baker said.
The couple started driving, but they were 50 miles from the nearest hospital in tiny Delta, Utah, a town with a population of approximately 3,600 people.
When they finally connected with an ambulance, Baker blacked out and medics performed CPR on him for more than 20 minutes.
“From what I understand they kept rotating through. Everybody just kept working on it. They never let my heart stop,” Baker said.
When he arrived at the hospital, however, Baker flatlined. Doctors shocked his heart three times to revive him.
“I was dead,” Baker said. “They told me I was their miracle.”
The gravity of Baker’s mortality and of others in similar situations set in the following day when two volunteer EMTs visited him at the hospital.
“They said, ‘Ron, we don’t typically talk to the people we pick up. Most of them don’t make it.'”
That part of Utah is so remote, the EMTs said far too many people die on the way to the hospital.
“I told my wife, we’ve got to do something for these people,” Baker said.
That “something” is a mechanical CPR device, which applies chest compression continuously and frees up medics to perform other lifesaving procedures. It’s especially fitting because those medics performed CPR tirelessly on Ron to keep him alive during the trip to the hospital.
“The machines drastically improve the survival rate,” Baker said. “Every second counts.”
One problem in securing those lifesaving devices is the cost. Each device is priced at about $20,000.
So, Baker started an online fundraiser Fundraiser by Ron Baker: Lifesaving CPR Device for Millard County, Utah (gofundme.com) with one very sobering thought on his mind.
“I could not be sitting here right now.”
Fay and Ron Baker recently celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary and Ron Baker turns 70 in a few weeks.
As the couple look back on their frightening ordeal, they said they are grateful there are still many more memories to be made.
“They call me their miracle,” Baker said. “I say, if I’m a miracle then they’re the miracle workers because they’re the ones who made this happen.”