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The City Journals

Lifesaving athletic trainer recognized by Murray FD

Nov 22, 2021 12:20PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Clint Edvalson (center) received recognition from the Murray City Fire Department for making a lifesaving diagnosis for Hunter Dela Cruz (second from left). (Photo courtesy Matt Boulden)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Tragedy was averted on the Murray High football field last fall when an alert athletic trainer diagnosed an internal injury, saving the life of a football player. The Murray City Fire Department recognized Clint Edvalson at the Oct. 8 Murray football game’s halftime, with a ceremony to present him with a recognition challenge coin.

“Had Mr. Edvalson not acted, the player may have returned to play. Those with delay in diagnosis of splenic trauma have a tenfold increase in mortality,” Murray City Fire Department Training Chief Matt Boulden said.

At the Sept. 6, 2020, Murray High football game versus Olympus, Murray player Hunter Dela Cruz ran to make a tackle, and the opponent’s helmet smashed into his ribcage. Dela Cruz had to be helped to the sideline.

“Nothing was really going on in my head besides me being out of the game. I just thought I got the wind knocked outta me; that’s about it,” Dela Cruz said.

After taking a shot to the ribs in the upper left quadrant, he complained of rib pain and having his diaphragm jarred. Edvalson checked Hunter for broken ribs and found that he may have cracked his ribs but was not experiencing any symptoms of a flail chest, which would have put him at risk for a punctured lung.

“After about five minutes, I looked for Hunter and noticed that he was on a knee. Not normal for a high-energy kid like him, someone who is trying to get back in the game. I spoke with him again, and he said that his ribs were really sore and that he was not feeling great,” Edvalson said.

As part of Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Sports Medicine Outreach Program, Edvalson, an athletic trainer, helps Murray High School by providing full-time athletic training coverage for all sports practices and games.

After monitoring Dela Cruz, he noticed that his condition seemed to be getting worse.

According to Edvalson, “I walked to him and literally watched the color drain out of his face. I asked him if he was nauseated; he was. I then asked him if he was having pain in his left shoulder. He looked at me and said yes, he was having a weird pain in that shoulder. I immediately called for the onsite paramedics.

“A hit in the upper left quadrant with nausea and left shoulder pain is a sign of a ruptured or injured spleen. When the paramedics arrived, I informed them of what I had observed. His blood pressure was down to 80/60, which was the final straw for needing to transport.”

While waiting for paramedics, Edvalson also made sure that Hunter stayed still and didn’t cause his heart rate to increase, exacerbating the injury. Paramedics rushed Hunter to the hospital. Time was of the essence since his condition was expected to deteriorate. 

“I thought I was totally fine at first, until the doctor came in and told me I have a grade 3/5 spleen injury,” Dela Cruz said.

“I was most impressed by Mr. Edvalson’s attention to detail, which in turn led to a high index of suspicion for a diagnosis when evaluating a patient with blunt force abdominal trauma,” Boulden said.

At the hospital, they hooked Dela Cruz up to an IV and took X-rays. Due to Edvalson’s diagnosis, physicians quickly treated his injury, but Dela Cruz’s football playing days were over.

“After the injury, I still think about football, but I’m healthy, and everything’s all healed up,” Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz was on hand for the halftime ceremony, in which the fire department presented Edvalson the coin and a letter of recognition. 

“For them to see something that I did as worthy of an award was very humbling for me. Because of my respect for them, it really meant a lot for me to be recognized. I felt completely honored and grateful,” Edvalson said.