Boise Firefighter and wife awarded for rescuing climber in Colorado

Posted at 9:40 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 23:40:31-05

A first responder never goes off the clock. One Boise firefighter and his wife, a nurse, proved that to be true when they helped save a life while on vacation in Colorado. On Wednesday they were awarded by the Boise Fire Department for their efforts.

Dramatic photos taken near the summit of Wetterhorn Peak in Colorado show Dave Smith clinging to life. Dave, a climber, had fallen and may have been struck by lightning in late July. He had broken his neck in three places and had multiple cuts on his arms and legs.

“I wouldn’t be here doing this right now today if it wasn't for them," said Dave Smith.

Thanks to what Dave's family says was divine intervention, Boise fighter Shane Nelson and his wife Megan, a nurse at St. Luke’s, found Dave and quickly worked to save his life. They treated his injuries and protected him from the elements.

"He was suffering from exposure, that was the main concern for us," said Boise Firefighter Shane Nelson

Using a cell phone and GPS, Shane coordinated with an air ambulance and helped carried Dave to the landing zone. The couple's life-saving skills kicked in, just like instinct.

“I was so thankful that Shane knew how to communicate to get help there," said Megan Nelson a nurse at Saint Luke’s.

Their life-saving action didn't go unnoticed, today Megan was given a certificate by the Boise Fire Department and Shane was awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest award the department can give.

"We're firefighters 24 hours a day 7 days a week it doesn't matter where we are and we're trained to do our job and that's what he did," said Chief Dennis Doan of the Boise City Fire Department.

Dave is now on his way to making a full recovery and hopes to climb again soon.