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The City Journals

First responders, including neighbors and snow plow drivers, receive UFA award

May 03, 2019 10:15AM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

(Not in order) Captain Anthony Widdison, engineer Curtis Clayton, paramedics Mike Bagely, Heathyr Best, Shaun Kinney, EMT Stephanie Stromsdorfer, Battalion Chief Riley Pilgrim, Herriman City Police officers Dustin Olzack and Kim Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Ryder and neighbors Wendy and Larry Wilson. (Photo Courtesy Unified Fire Authority)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected]

When Travis Dinger and Gunner Kelsch took a CPR and AED (defibrillator) class through Herriman City, taught by Unified Fire Authority, they never imagined just how much that training would come to affect the life of a total stranger.

Dinger and Kelsch, both just 19-years-old, are snow plow drivers for Herriman. One month after taking a class held specifically for the city’s employees, the two encountered a situation on Feb. 6, where that training would help them to save a man’s life.

“I was being trained by Gunner so I was driving and he pointed out that he thought some people were doing CPR on a guy,” said Dinger. “When we pulled over and got out to help as we could see the man’s face was purple and those helping him were performing mouth to mouth, but not chest compressions.”

Dinger said both he and Kelsch jumped in to take over, and it felt more like instinct as they didn’t have time to think about the training they received.

“I feel like it just kicked in, to know what to do,” said Kelsch. “I have my Eagle Scout, and I also learned CPR then, so I just knew what to do.”

It would be several minutes before crews from Herriman City Police, Unified Fire Station 103 and EMS crews in ambulance 221 would arrive on scene.

Matt McFarland with Unified Fire Authority taught that class at Herriman City. He said he had been working with Herriman City recently to teach employees life saving measures.

“Anyone who works in their field offices had to be trained, so they decided to teach everyone who they employ,” said McFarland.

McFarland said he teaches a technique they refer to as ‘compressions only to survive.’

“These guys had just gone through this,” said McFarland. “They were out driving, and this guy had been out shoveling driveways and helping neighbors when he collapsed in his driveway.”

McFarland said the men both took initiative to try to keep the man alive.

“They jumped out and began doing CPR on the man,” said McFarland. “They were doing such highly efficient CPR that our crews who arrived about five minutes later could identify as they pulled up that it was best to have them continue what they were doing, while medical personnel set up and prepared advanced maneuvers.”

McFarland said by doing compressions it made the difference between him surviving and losing his life.

On March 13, Dinger and Kelsch, the man’ wife, Sherri Ryder and neighbors Wendy and Larry Wilson received the Unified Fire’s Civilian Lifesaving Award. Also awarded were crews from Unified Station 103 and ambulance 221 Captain Anthony Widdison, engineer Curtis Clayton, paramedics Mike Bagely, Heathyr Best, Shaun Kinney, EMT Stephanie Stromsdorfer and Battalion Chief Riley Pilgrim. Herriman City police officers who responded and assisted with the incident, Dustin Olzack and Kim Martin, also received an award.    

According to The American Heart Association, some 350,000 cases occur each year outside of a hospital, and the survival rate is less than 12 percent.

They say CPR can double or triple the chances of survival.

“Seventy-percent of cardiac arrests happen in homes, but for those that happen in a workplace, a recent American Heart Association survey found that most U.S. employees are not prepared for a cardiac emergency,” said their website.

McFarland said very rarely is CPR not effective if it’s done right and that it is simple to learn and extremely effective.

“If more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved,” said McFarland. “In that five to seven minutes before we get there, the compressions could help by keeping the blood pumping through the body and oxygen to their brains”


You can find Community Emergency response Team training options by visiting the UFA website.

If you cannot attend a class, McFarland recommends watching a short video, and learning CPR at home with your family. You can watch the video at this link


For more information on compressions to survive, please visit