Man saved after cardiac arrest at Howelsen Hill urges elected officials to back request for more fire/EMS resources

Fire trucks leave the Mountain Fire Station
John F. Russell/File

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nick Rose credits a quick emergency response, help from his family and a bit of luck for his ability to stand in Citizens Hall on Tuesday night to praise the emergency responders who brought him back from the brink of death at Howelsen Hill on Christmas Day.

“They saved my life, bottom line,” he said of the emergency responders. “I can’t say enough about the job they did.”

Continued CPR helped resuscitate Rose.

But had just a couple of things turned out differently, Rose’s story might have turned out differently, and he might not have survived his cardiac arrest.

Rose’s story was another close call that has the city’s fire chief calling for more resources and personnel to handle an increasing volume of emergency calls in and around the city.

Had the day’s events turned out differently by a matter of minutes, the emergency responders who helped save Rose’s life might have instead been tied up tending to someone who fractured a hip outside the city limits and a skier on Mount Werner who fractured a leg during the same hour Rose went into cardiac arrest.

Rose, a Routt County resident, went into cardiac arrest while skiing near the base of Howelsen Hill around 2:19 p.m. on Christmas Day.

An electrical malfunction in Rose’s pacemaker reportedly caused the event.

His son started performing CPR, and emergency responders were on the scene in nine minutes.

Rose got a full and immediate response because the two other emergency calls that occurred in the same hour came in minutes after Rose’s call, and not before.

“I’m very lucky I was the first call,” Rose said.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said if Rose had been the third call of the hour, he might not have gotten the same life-saving response he ended up getting.

Emergency responders were able to put the call for the injured skier “on the backburner” and send fewer resources to the person with the fractured hip while they brought Rose back to life.

Rose considers himself lucky that a series of other events led to his resuscitation.

“I was lucky that I was at the base area, and I wasn’t way up on Emerald Meadows,” he said.

“I was lucky my family was there, and my son had enough training to initiate CPR.”

He was also lucky a parks and recreation employee who was operating a snowcat was able to help get Rose to an ambulance more quickly through the snow.

Rose said he doesn’t remember anything from the incident, and that he woke up at a Denver hospital and watched as a nurse changed the date from Christmas Day to Dec. 26 on a whiteboard.

“I feel fortunate I didn’t have to witness what was going on,” he said.

Rose went to Citizens Hall on Tuesday to not only praise emergency responders, but also back Stewart’s call for more personnel and resources.

“I would encourage you to support Mel’s request for additional people, and whatever else he needs,” Rose said.

Stewart told the city council during a work session that he thinks it’s time for the city to ask its residents for a dedicated funding source for fire and emergency medical services.

“The fire department is running with too few staff,” he said. “There’s an increased risk for adverse consequences to the community.”

Stewart said emergency responders are also having to take risks themselves when responding to calls.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue currently gets its funding from two sources.

City residents pay for fire and EMS services through sales tax.

Residents who live in a doughnut-shaped fire district just beyond the border of Steamboat pay a property tax to fund the service they receive.

The city itself is not inside the district.

How to go on funding fire and EMS services in the Steamboat area has been discussed now for several years.

Big expenditures Stewart is proposing in the coming years include more full-time personnel to help reduce the amount of overtime emergency responders are working, as well as a fully-staffed downtown fire station by 2020.


To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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