Firefighter saves lives on the ground and in the air | SummitDaily.com

Firefighter saves lives on the ground and in the air

NICOLE FORMOSA
summit daily news
Summit County. CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Kristin Anderson
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BLUE RIVER ” When Red, White and Blue Fire’s medic units arrive this spring, Steve Webster will be one of the department’s 14 paramedics assigned to the new duty.

As a longtime paramedic with a wealth of knowledge in the medical field, it’s a shift in the department he’s looking forward to.

“It’s going to be a huge change for Red, White and Blue, but it’s going to be a good change,” Webster said recently from the Blue River fire station.

Webster joined Breckenridge’s fire department about two years ago, enticed away from Elk Creek Fire-Rescue in Conifer by Red, White and Blue’s continued focus on EMS.

Since he joined Red, White and Blue, he’s had ample opportunity to use his skills during emergencies around the nation.

He deployed on a 30-day tour to South Carolina following Hurricane Katrina, where he worked at an evacuee center registering storm refugees in the FEMA system.

Survivors who’d been plucked off rooftops in areas hardest hit by the storm filed into the center and told their stories.

“To sit and talk to people who just lost everything was pretty humbling,” Webster said.

Then, a year ago, he was part of a Red, White and Blue crew sent to Louisiana to help curb wildfires fueled from debris left behind by the violent hurricane season. Last summer, while Summit County enjoyed a mild wildfire season, Webster logged long hours on the frontlines of raging wildfires near the Wyoming/South Dakota border.

If firefighting itself wasn’t a heart-pounding enough occupation, Webster has added another level of complexity to his career. On his days off, he works as a flight paramedic for Flight For Life’s Lifeguard 2 in Frisco.

As such, he’s worked on all types of critically ill patients, including avalanche and car accident victims and injured skiers and snowboarders, all while the pilot is zipping through the sky at 140 miles per hour.

He also helped more than a handful of babies make their grand entrance into the world.

One of those deliveries occurred in the waiting room at Summit Medical Center. Webster happened to be finishing a flight shift, and was in the break room when he heard the unmistakable screams of a woman in labor. He rushed out and delivered her child right there on the couch.

But, Webster’s most memorable delivery was when he and his Elk Creek Fire crew were called to help a mother who went into premature labor at 28 weeks. The baby was born distressed, and Webster’s crew had to resuscitate the tiny newborn. He survived, and a year later, the parent’s invited Webster and his crew to celebrate the child’s 1st birthday with the family.

Just two months before that call, Webster had taken a neonatal resuscitation class for Flight For Life.

“It actually came in quite handy,” he said.

Webster got his start in firefighting during college at California’s Chico State, where he majored in forestry and fought wildland fires on a hotshot crew for the U.S. Forest Service.

After graduation, a friend convinced Webster to move to Colorado and work for Keystone Emergency Services, where he stayed for four years, learning the ropes of emergency response. At the same time, he volunteered at the Snake River Fire Department, and took EMT courses at Colorado Mountain College.

He became a paramedic in 1992 after completing classes through St. Anthony Hospitals in Denver.

With more than two decades of experience in the emergency field under his belt, having Webster around often brings a sense of relief to his co-workers, said Red, White and Blue Capt. Kim Scott.

“He’s like a modern day Johnny Gage,” she said, referring to the lead role in the 1970s TV show “Emergency.” “He brings a calming effect to the crew working on EMS situations and a sense of professionalism that’s only gained from experience.”

Webster also volunteers for the North-West Fire Protection District in Park County.

He and his wife, Eileen, live in Fairplay with their dogs.

Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.


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