Location: Evanston, Wyoming
Date: August 15, 1994
On August 15, 1994 in Evanston, Wyoming, 42-year-old Reed Larson, his wife, Lori, and their three children had just finished dinner around 6pm. Reed decided to fix the dishwasher because it hadn't been working well. The repairman determined that it was a kinked hose, so he decided to pull it back to unkink it so that it would work. He removed the paneling and looked inside, but couldn't see the hose. He asked Lori to get a flashlight while he tried to find it. But as she was getting the flashlight, he was reaching in the dishwasher while it was still operational since the current was still on and when he touched a wire, it shocked him.
Lori got the flashlight and asked Reed where to shine it. But when he didn't answer, she found out that he was unconscious and it terrified her. She called 911 and Evanston Sheriff's dispatcher Dina Miller took the call. As she learned about Reed's electrocution from the frantic Lori, Volunteer Rescue workers responded, including Lisa and Rob Warner, close friends of the Larsons, who are EMTs. "The thought crosses your mind that it can always happen to somebody you know. But I don't think I would've ever thought that it would happen to Reed and Lori." Lisa admitted.
As Miller asked Lori if Reed was breathing, she somehow pulled him away from the dishwasher without shocking herself and frantically found that he wasn't. Aftering she informed Miller about it, Miller instructed her that she needed to do rescue breathing on him since she can hear the panic in her voice. She was terrified, but knew that she would have to do it.
Mike Dean was visiting a friend who lived next door to the Larsons when one of the children knocked on the door and screamed that her dad had been shocked. Mike told his friend to call 911 as he went next door with the girl. He tended to Reed and found that his pulse was hollow and he was lifeless. Mike helped Lori with CPR as he learned it in college as the children sadly looked on. "These kids were expecting me to give their father back to him and bring him back to life. The pressure was just enormous." Mike stated.
After three minutes of the call, Rob and Lisa arrived and immediately took over for Lori and Mike. As Lisa was giving Reed rescue breaths, Lori was telling her, "Don't let Reed die," which was very hard on her since she was doing her job and to hear her friend pleading for her husband's life.
"There was an extreme roll on my shoulder because I can see in Lori's eye that she was counting on Lisa and I to help her husband. And I didn't know if he was going to make it. I didn't know if I'd be able to do whatever I needed to do to help my friend." Rob stated.
Within ten minutes, Unita County Fire ambulance arrived, including EMT John Saint, who took charge at the scene. Saint thought there was a good chance Reed may not survive the electrical injuries he received. They took him to the ambulance and it left the scene. Mike can feel the children knowing that they may not see their father alive again.
Reed was taken to IHC Evanston Regional Hospital, where Dr. Kevin O'Meara examined him. He found that he had a heartbeat and blood pressure, but his eyes were dilated and unresponsive. Dr. O'Meara found an area of electrical burn on top of Reed's head and was concerned that the electrical injury to his brain was severe enough that it may not recover, despite getting his heart back.
As Dr. O'Meara informed Lori of his condition, she was scared to death, wondering if Reed has brain damage and how she and her family would able to handle it. She told him not to leave them.
Reed was airlifted to the burn center of the University of Utah Hospital where he drifted in and out of consciousness for two days. Then Lori saw him open his eyes and looked at her with recognition. She was elated that he would be okay.
Eight months later, Reed had fully recovered from his injuries. He couldn't believe how close he came to death, since his family would be lost without him and nobody would love them the way he did. But he had a sense of graditude for a lot of people, including Mike Dean and Rob and Lisa Warner, who came to his aid.
Rob said that the electricity isn't forgiving and that even if it's just changing the light fixture in the house, people need to make sure the power is off before you dig into it.
The City of Evanston honored Mike for his heroism that day, even though he looked at his heroic efforts in a different way and that he didn't feel like a hero at all. He felt that he was there and had to do something. He also stated that any other human being would do the same thing he would. "I will always appreciate him very deeply for giving me that precious gift of my family back and the second chance of life." Reed stated.