Man reunites with EMS director who saved his life, inspired him to become paramedic

Sean Marquis said he felt “amazement and pride” when meeting Austin Neuhaus, whom he helped keep alive after Neuhaus’ truck crashed into a tree in 2016

By Ashley McCallum
The Janesville Gazette

LAKE GENEVA, Wis. — Austin Neuhaus visited the MD-1 tent at the Country Thunder music festival to look for the man who helped save his life.

The doctor in the tent did not know who was working New Year’s Day 2016, the day Neuhaus was in a nearly fatal car crash.

The now-19-year-old Genoa City man does not remember anything that happened in the 30 days before and after the crash because of the brain bleeding he experienced. People at the scene told him a Mercyhealth MD-1 doctor had helped keep him alive until he reached Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Neuhaus said.

Neuhaus had hoped to meet every first responder on the scene that January afternoon to thank them for keeping him alive.

His MD-1 doctor was one of the last people who remained a mystery to him.

Then Neuhaus took a firefighting class in November at Gateway Technical College—the same class Sean Marquis, associate EMS medical director at Mercyhealth, was taking.

The crash

Neuhaus was driving his truck at about noon Jan. 1, 2016, when it slid on a patch of ice on Daisy Road near Genoa City and crashed into a tree.

Neuhaus and his friends Sam McKinney and Logan Parker, who were in the truck, were on their way to a friend’s house before going to play basketball.

Of the three teens in the car, Neuhaus was hurt the worst. He broke the top two vertebrae in his spine—the critical bones that allow the skull to move—along with his leg, neck, jaw and sinus cavity, and suffered brain bleeding.

He was in physical therapy for nearly two years and still occasionally experiences pain from his injuries.

Marquis arrived in MD-1, an emergency medical vehicle staffed with doctors who can provide treatment beyond what a paramedic can offer. He applied pressure to Neuhaus’ neck wound to control the bleeding, administered medicine to prevent internal bleeding and stabilized Neuhaus for transport.

Responding to incidents involving young people is one of the most difficult parts of his job, Marquis said.

A reunion

Neuhaus said he met several first responders who were on the scene that afternoon through his father, who used to be a firefighter.

The flight nurse who helped Neuhaus during transport gave a presentation at Catholic Central High School in Burlington, where Neuhaus was a student, after the crash. The nurse recognized the teen, and the two connected, giving him a chance to thank her.

Nearly three years later, Neuhaus enrolled in an introductory firefighting course at Gateway that met once a week.

Marquis was in the same class. The men didn’t know each other until the last day of class, when Neuhaus mentioned MD-1 was on the scene of his crash.

Marquis said he felt “amazement and pride” when he realized Neuhaus was the teen he saved in 2016. Marquis rarely meets patients after treating them, and he said he felt meeting Neuhaus was “fate.”

To see Neuhaus doing so well was gratifying, Marquis said.

The two say they look forward to crossing paths again over the course of their careers.

Growing up, Neuhaus had hoped to become a firefighter. After his crash, he realized the physical demands of firefighting would be too hard on his body.

Instead, Neuhaus intends to become a paramedic. He said he has experienced first-hand how emergency medical professionals can change a person’s life.

Neuhaus is a religious person. He said he prays every night that God will protect the first responders who helped him.

Marquis said he remembers moments in his life that shaped who he is today. He is glad the crash led to a positive outcome for Neuhaus.

“When I am 21, I have to buy you a drink,” Neuhaus told Marquis as the two parted ways Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright 2019 The Janesville Gazette

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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