ST. GEORGE — Not even his family knows, but Ryan Borrowman is a hero.

He’s been at his current practice, Desert Edge Medical, as a doctor of nursing, for seven years. And his knowledge gained from years of experience may have saved a woman’s life.

On Dec. 16, 2023, Borrowman, 48, was driving to Cedar City and came across a traffic jam near Quail Creek State Park.

The incident involved a woman and her dog traveling northbound on Interstate 15 when their vehicle left the road. Bystanders reportedly helped cut the injured woman out of car the seat. They laid her on the ground and waited for emergency medical to arrive.

“Traffic was just barely starting to get stopped,” Borrowman told St. George News. “I could tell this must have just happened.”

Ryan Borrowman has worked at Desert Edge Medical for the last seven years in St. George, Utah, Jan. 5, 2024 | Photo by Bridger Palmer, St. George News

He noticed the woman on the roadside and asked the onlookers if they needed any help.

“Their answer was ‘Yes, we need someone here right now’,” he said. 

He pulled over quickly — and didn’t turn off his engine.

“This woman’s vehicle was upside down with a U-Haul attached,” he said “It was turned almost like a V shape. She’s got blood running down her head and I can see some blood on her shirt. I’m thinking, ‘Is she breathing?’”

She was doing agonal breathing, or gasping, Borrowman said. It’s deceptive in that it looks like the airway is clear, but if it goes on too long the consequences can be fatal. The group of bystanders told him they had just pulled her out of the vehicle but couldn’t tell him exactly how long she had been breathing that way.

“We got to start CPR right away,” Borrowman told them.

He did chest compressions until medical assistance arrived, continuing even through exhaustion.

“It’s hard to explain how you can get tired in such a short amount of time,” he said.

When ambulance crews took over the scene, Borrowman remained and did everything he could to keep the situation under control.

“When you get in doctor mode, you’re just focused on exactly what needs to be done,” he said. “You’re not really paying attention to anything around.”

The medical tech told him not to worry about chest compressions anymore, but they didn’t have the defibrillator open yet, he worried.

The scene of a crash near mile marker 20 on Interstate 15 in Southern Utah, Dec. 16, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

“I told him that he could cut the shirt while I’m doing compressions. Whether that was right or wrong, I have no clue. I was just in that mode,” Borrowman said.

He asked the deputy if they needed anything else before he was dismissed, still spiked with adrenaline.

“I remember getting in the truck and driving for about two or three minutes,” he said. “And then I look at my hands. And I see they’re covered in blood.”

Borrowman stopped at a convenience store, washed up and drove the rest of the way to Cedar City without saying a word to anyone about what had happened.

“It’s just what you do,” Borrowman said. “I would expect that if it were me or my family or someone, someone would just do the same. It’s just what people do.”

Until now, only his youngest children and one sister know what transpired. Borrowman has not had contact with the woman whose life he suspects he saved, yet he hopes she is doing well.

“Man, part of me is hoping that she might read this,” he said. “Then I can find out if she’s OK. I hope she’s good.”

Tasha Borget with Desert Edge Medical, Borrowman’s practice, reached out to St. George News when she read the story of the traffic incident.

“He really does care about helping other people and lending a hand to those in need,” Borget said. “That’s just the kind of person he is.”

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