MOUNT GILEAD — Ron and Sue Criswell spoke with grace and humor as they recalled the accident that sent Ron to the OhioHealth Mansfield Trauma Unit with a broken neck last April 30.
The Criswells told their story as part of the Gilead Christian School Tuesday morning assembly with all 12 grades attending. The program began with the praise songs “Do Lord” and “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” Several students received “Fruit of the Spirit” and “Kindness” awards.
GCS Administrator Bryan Potteiger introduced the Criswells who were doing maintenance and janitorial work when the accident occurred. Students were completely captivated and attentive as Ron’s story unfolded.
Ron said he was visiting a friend who was building a house in the country. He was leaving when he stepped off the edge of a wall and fell almost 10 feet onto the concrete footer.
Morrow County EMTs Adam VanDuzen and Judy Ortiz responded to the 911 call. VanDuzen said they found Ron unconscious and not moving before he steadied Ron’s head and neck while Ortiz cut off his clothing.
“I will always remember this young lady (Ortiz) who cut off all my clothes,” Criswell said with a chuckle
They placed him on a backboard and took Ron to the OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital Trauma Unit. It is the closest Level II Trauma unit.
Sue said, “Going there saved his life. We’re thankful to the EMTs and thankful that we have this EMT unit in the county.”
“We were just doing our job,” VanDuzen said humbly.
Trauma medical Director Jason Straus, MD, said the first 48 hours were critical. Ron had a severe spinal chord injury and pins were placed in his neck. Then he needed a long rehab because nerve and spinal chord injuries take longer to heal.
Sue recalled the many prayers that were said for Ron when he was in the ICU for three weeks. She was especially appreciative of the many students, pastors, friends and neighbors who said they were praying for Ron’s healing.
Straus spoke with feeling about Criswell’s injuries and recovery. “Patients like Ron keep us going. His heart is so pure. He cares so much about the students and the school.”
“He couldn’t wait to get back,” Straus added. “He kept asking, ‘when can I get back to my kids?’”
Ron said he gained strength in rehab and went around the halls on his wheelchair with a “joke of the day.”
Donation to school
Trauma Program Manager, Heidi Jenkins RN, said their team was impressed with how much the Criswells spoke of the GCS students. That is why the OhioHealth Mansfield Trauma Unit decided to make the donation of $1,000 to the school.
She said the unit usually gives a gift to a patient, but in this case they decided to give the gift of money to the school in Ron’s honor.
“We could see how much he cares about the school and GCS students,” Jenkins said.
Sue thanked the doctors saying, “They were always there for Ron and me and God is always there for us.”
“I am amazed at how God and peoples’ prayers healed me. I love coming to school with you and praying with you. I have known God for 35 years,” Ronsaid.
“This was a pretty big hiccup,” Ron concluded as students and faculty laughed and then gave the Criswells a standing ovation.