Relaxing summertime outings on a lake, away from hectic workdays, are a staple for many Michiganders. It was fortunate for one southwestern Michigan man that two Michigan State University osteopathic physicians chose to spend their day off on a Gun Lake pontoon.
Their quick response saved his life and earned them recognition from local officials.
Doctors Lauren Azevedo and Ryan Keating, both graduates of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, were enjoying a boat ride with family members on Gun Lake near Wayland, Michigan when they heard shouts and saw a group of young men on another boat signaling for help.
Azevedo, a pediatrician who had just graduated from a residency program at St. John Providence Hospital in Detroit, dove into the water and swam to the adjoining boat. She found a young man named Camerson Chichosz whose leg had been severed and she shouted to Keating, a neurologist who had just completed his neurophysiology fellowship, to join her.
“We knew we needed to stop the bleeding,” Keating said. “We put the tourniquet on, Lauren applied pressure and we focused on getting him to shore.”
The young man was not only fortunate to be within earshot of two trained physicians, but a group of off-duty local firefighters that was also nearby on a jet ski. They stopped and jumped onto the boat to help get the injured man to shore.
By the time the craft reached the shore, an ambulance, EMTs, along with many other first responders, had arrived. After helping get the injured man into the ambulance and on his way to the hospital, Azevedo and Keating finally had time to think about what had just happened.
“After the fact you think, did I do everything right? Should I have done something different?” she said. “The next day we saw him talking on the news and that made it all worth it.”
While neither physician specializes in emergency medicine, both have had experience with trauma cases. They noted a big difference between the clinical and first-response situations.
“It’s so different when something comes into the emergency department than when you’re the first to come upon it,” Keating noted. “In the emergency room, many times someone has already had the opportunity to stabilize the situation.”
“Training in Detroit, I did get some trauma experience,” she said, “but nothing prepares you for something like that.”
The two were recognized for their effort with the Barry County Life Saving Award, which was presented on July 10 by Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei during the county commissioners meeting. Both are quick to point out that there were others involved in the effort and that while they appreciate the honor, everyone from the firefighters to the EMTs helped get the injured man to the hospital.
“When they called us and said, ‘We want to do this,’ we said, ‘Are you sure?’” Azevedo said. “We think it’s something we’d hope anyone would do. We were just glad we were there and we want to respect everybody who helped—it wasn’t just us.”
Now both are preparing to step into new roles at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. Azevedo will become an assistant professor of pediatrics and Keating an assistant professor of neurology and ophthalmology.
“The opportunity to come back to the place where you were trained and work as colleagues with those who trained you—it’s one of the reasons that I wanted to come back,” Keating said.
“I wanted to come to a place that integrated clinical and teaching roles,” Azevedo said. “I did my master’s in pharmacology and toxicology at MSU so I’m looking forward to being back in an academic setting. Plus, we are both diehard MSU fans and are excited to be back at the place where we started.”