SALT LAKE CITY — A day out with a friend on their ATV's to enjoy Utah's Heber Valley this summer ended not how 61-year-old Ben Baird had imagined.
"It was beautiful, we got on top and got near the cliffs and looked down where you could see to Wyoming. It was that clear across the Uintas," Baird said.
While heading home, things changed.
"I slowed down for these sheep. They all ran by and then one of them didn't run by. As soon as I rounded the corner, he jumped out from behind the bush. I turn to miss him and hit him," Baird said.
The crash caused him to flip the 1,000-pound machine on top of him, slamming his head on the rocky trail.
"I'm told I'm lucky I'm even alive," Baird said.
Baird is now undergoing a lot of physical therapy at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Utah in Sandy and thanking the Life Flight crews who quickly lanced and rescued him.
"I don't think I would have survived the ambulance ride, and I think it took like 10 to 15 minutes to get back here. I owe them everything actually, really grateful to them," he said.
In fact, that's the mission of the Life Flight team. "Our goal is to rapidly extract a patient and get them to definitive care as quickly as we can," said Intermountain Healthcare Life Flight nurse Judi Carpenter.
Carpenter, who has worked for 27 years as a Life Flight nurse. "The relief you see in the conscious patients as they come up they feel so grateful that we're there and get them out. It's very rewarding."
And if the conditions are not right for a landing, Intermountain's helicopters are equipped with the only civilian-operated hoist equipment in the United States.
The specially designed equipment allows trained crews to make rescues in technical and hazardous terrain.
"I actually performed the first hoist we ever done, and it never gets old," Carpenter said. "It's always exciting and always emotionally uplifting to extract somebody out of a dangerous terrain."
Intermountain's Life Flight received the certification to hoist in 2001 and, since that time, they have done over 330 hoist rescues.
Life Flight also transports 4,000 patients annually. Since 1978, Intermountain claims to have transported 65,000-plus patients.