Between the Waves Podcast
Oxygen - The Wonder Drug, Episode 17
*This is a transcript of the "Oxygen - The Wonder Drug" episode of NASBLA's Podcast, Between the Waves, from January 25, 2021.
The call came in like a poaching in progress call. It was my boss. “Get down to the Speaker's office right now. He wants to speak with us about oxygen.”
“Well, boss, I'm on my way. You better add two hydrogen to that, or it's not my shop. Just kidding, I’m in route.”
Moving through the bustling halls and up to the officer guarding the back elevator that heads directly up to the Speaker's office, behind the House chambers, my head was swirling as to why the Texas Speaker of the House might want to speak to the Boating Law Administrator about oxygen. Little did I know how much this moment in time would mean to a little boy and his family in South Texas months later.
This is Between the Waves, an audio series to discuss the topics important to today’s water safety professional. Here’s your host from the great state of Texas, Cody Jones.
It was the waning days of the ‘86 Texas legislative session and Speaker Dennis Bonnen had two of his constituents, Sherry and Jason Sheffield in his office, who are the founders of Rory the Warrior.
You see, on August 19, 2016, while on vacation, the Sheffield’s youngest of four children, Rory, drowned when he slipped away and entered some water alone.
Sherry and Jason could have done nothing following Rory's death. Yet, Rory was too special and God had bigger plans for him and for the Sheffield's.
In the months and years that have passed, the Sheffield's have made it a part of their life's work to raise awareness of the importance of emergency oxygen, and its accessibility to first responders – especially those working around the water.
Well, that meeting ultimately led to the line item funding of $250,000 for 500 drowning resuscitation kits to be distributed to all Texas Game Wardens and Texas State Park Peace Officers.
In the year following the legislative session, I worked closely with our purchasing staff to define our needs for a drowning resuscitation kit. The kit included a high impact polymer weather resistant exterior case loaded with a refillable 250-liter oxygen cylinder with a simple on/off control lever and an invertible mass to accommodate both adults and children. The tank is capable of a minimum of six-liters per minute, and a maximum of 12-liters per minute of airflow.
In addition, the kit includes a first aid kit and two combat application tourniquets. The awarding vendor also provided two hours of training to all the officers on the application of oxygen to victims of drowning.
The agency's first oxygen resuscitation kits began rolling out in late August 2020. Wardens were trained in October and November of that same year. In December of 2020, the legacy of three-year-old Rory helped save the life of a four-year-old in South Texas.
You see, three Texas Game Wardens and an army of rescuers converged around a hole in the ground near Garceno, Texas. Nearly a fifth of the way down a narrow, but deep hole, a four-year-old boy was stuck and in serious need of help. The wardens acted quickly to provide supplies of fresh oxygen and keep the child alive. In doing so, Texas Game Wardens Carlos Maldonado, Michael Patrick, and Lane Turner utilized their kits that they'd received only a few days earlier.
The December 8th whale rescue in Starr County was the first time Texas Game Wardens deployed their new oxygen resuscitation kits. Game Warden Maldonado explained to a local reporter that when he got the kit, at first, he thought the only way it will be used is on the water. And it really came to light that night that it could be used for a myriad of situations. The trio of wardens were among dozens of participants in a region-wide collaboration to rescue the child. Every tool, every aspect, every profession, every person who's been to a specialized training was there and utilized. Input was brought in from all facets – from fire, EMS and law enforcement.
The Game Wardens and other first responders kept oxygen flowing while firefighters from multiple departments dug by hand and used pneumatic tools to cut a hole adjacent to the boy before breaching over to extract him. The rescuers even had to use air chisels to power through the dry, hard caliche and use a vacuum truck to remove the dirt.
After about six hours in the hole, which he maintained constant contact with rescuers, the boy was safely extracted and airlifted to a nearby hospital for testing. The boy has since been discharged and is doing well.
As we have seen through Justin Sempsrott’s presentation some years ago during our annual conference, and based on many successful rescues in both drowning situations, and this most recent well rescue in South Texas, we've seen the power of this wonder drug called oxygen.
So my question to you is, is now the time to consider outfitting your first responders with it? I hope you consider it. And should I or the Sheffield's at Rory the Warrior, be of any help to you in such an endeavor, it would be our honor to help. Until next time, stay safe!
For more information on Rory the Warrior, visit their website.
Listen to this episode of the NASBLA podcast on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.