Determined search saves a life near I-40 at Jack Rabbit exit

An Altzheimer's patient who was staying at N.A.O.M.I. House in Jack Rabbit for a period of respite care, went out to walk his dog. He came back and put the dog in the house, but then went out to look for the dog's sweater which had been lost during the walk.

Within 100 yards of the house, he got tangled up in barbed wire and then retangled so that he was wrapped in it. For hours the people at the house and their neighbors called and searched. They never got an answer. It was February first and very cold.

One determined lady, Laura Chirumbolo, a therapist from Northland Therapy Services, kept on searching. She spotted the sweater and then the man. After that a quick call was made to 9-1-1 and every possible rescue service came to their aid.

The ambulance driver said that the call was for a rollover near the Jack Rabbit exit, but when they got there, no vehicle was to be seen. It took a few minutes to find out that the patient was along the frontage road, down off the exit.

The patient was bleeding, and he was becoming hypothermic. The EMT medics from AMS Ambulance Service in Winslow said that they got there just in time. EMT Coles and EMT Blackburn were on the call. Coles said that it was "one of the most unique calls I have been on. We were happy to get him out safe. It could have been a lot worse."

The patient was in good spirits and exhibited a great personality. The wire was wrapped around his neck. In order to get it off, the police held the wire on one end, EMTs held the wire on the other and ADOT provided the wire cutting equipment and service.

ADOT personnel said that he was lucky to have fallen into an older type of barbed wire. His head was between the string panel and the ground, where the wire is pulled to the post. After ADOT cut the wire, they mended the fence before heading home.

Personnel from Joseph City, Holbrook, the County Sheriff's Office, DPS and Winslow all assisted at the scene. The patient had to be lifted off the wire which was caught in his neck tissue. Then he went by ambulance to Winslow where X-ray showed problems needing more specialized care and he was then transported by helicopter to Flagstaff.

This very lucky man is now home with his family and recovering. He still has some problems with his left shoulder and arm, but they are healing.

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