Guest post: This story of an Eagle Scout’s heroism at Philmont Scout Ranch was written by Jane Parikh, public relations manager for the Michigan Crossroads Council.
Josiah Bakker isn’t a doctor, but the Eagle Scout from Suttons Bay, Mich., knew exactly what to do when a Philmont hiker showed up on the front porch of his cabin with a life-threatening cut to his arm.
Bakker was at the staff cabin at Clark’s Fork, one of Philmont’s backcountry camps, when two Scouts came running up to say they needed help. One of the Scouts was peeling bark off a branch when his knife slipped, cutting two inches into his arm and slicing his radial artery.
“The injured Scout came up to the porch with one arm covered in blood,” Bakker said. “As he sat down, I took his hand off of his arm and blood squirted out. So it was pretty obvious to me that it was an artery that had been cut.
“I stuck my hand on his elbow to put pressure on the artery and directed other people to apply gauze and pressure on the wound, until the medics from base camp arrived.”
(Note from Bryan: In an ideal scenario, Bakker would have worn protective gloves. But medical emergencies rarely present ideal scenarios.)
A successful resolution
Bakker spent 15 minutes with the Scout while the medics made their way from base camp 9 miles away. That 15 minutes turned a potential tragedy into “just” a scary story.
“I honestly just kind of did it,” Bakker said. “I just kind of did what we had practiced.”
The injured Scout went to a local hospital. After a successful reconstructive surgery, he made a full recovery.
A proud mom
Lynn Bakker, Josiah’s mother, said her son did what he learned to do as a Scout. That started in Cub Scouts and continued through the Wilderness First Aid training he took in the spring.
Beyond that, Lynn Bakker said, it was just about being in the right place at the right time.
“He kept that pressure on the boy’s arm and kept talking to him and encouraging his friend to continue praying with him for more than 15 minutes until base camp medics got there,” Lynn Bakker said.
The days that followed
After his life-saving efforts, Josiah Bakker went back to being a Philmont staffer. He said he enjoyed helping younger Scouts grow and advance as they spent time at the New Mexico hiking destination.
Back home, the 20-year-old is an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 131 and attends Northwestern Michigan College, majoring in engineering technology. He joined Scouting at age 7 and earned Eagle in 2010.
“I learned quite a bit about leadership. I was the senior patrol leader for Troop 131 back home and was the crew leader for my trek at Philmont,” Josiah Bakker said. “In Scouting you are with people you don’t know, and you learn how to make it work. A lot of it is overcoming barriers, and if you don’t think you can do something, you do it anyway and succeed.”
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