One Roper St. Francis Healthcare teammate recently was recognized with an award for her heroic actions in helping to find and rescue a Ravenel man who had been missing for two days.
Buffy Rowe, a lead coding specialist at RSFH, received in December the Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad Life Saver Award for her actions. She described finding the man as the highlight of her year and receiving the award as a surprise and a tremendous honor.
Buffy is a member of the Volunteer Rescue Squad, which does everything from swift water rescues to finding missing boaters to extracting drivers from wrecked vehicles.
In October 2019, local media began to report on a man who had gone missing. Curtis Gibson was a 66 year old with a history of dementia and an above the knee amputation. He had a prosthetic leg and used a rolling walker to move. Below is Buffy’s account of what happened.
“He resided on family property, with his brother and family living next door. Their family business is a vehicle towing and storage lot that covered about 10 acres of the property behind their homes. The storage lot was heavily overgrown in places and full of old and wrecked vehicles.
The missing man previously had wandered out onto the property and been found by family. In this instance, he had last been seen Wednesday. It was Friday morning and the family still had been unable to locate him.
Upon receiving the Sheriff’s Office request for assistance, I contacted my supervisor, Geri Stevenson, and asked permission to clock out and help with the search. Geri graciously approved.
As I was working from home and live in Colleton County, I was the closest Rescue Squad member to the location and soon was joined by three other members.
The Sheriff’s Office had brought tracking dogs to search on Thursday with no result, and they were using a helicopter with a heat-seeking sensor on Friday morning to try and find him.
We were instructed by the Sheriff’s Office to conduct an organized search of the property, inspect the interiors and trunks of every vehicle, and mark each vehicle with tape.
About two and a half hours after we began our initial search, checking every vehicle that could reasonably be accessed by an amputee, I found our subject lying on the ground between four vehicles parked closely together.
His rolling walker, prosthetic leg and clothing were about 15 feet away. Apparently, they had become entangled, and he fell and crawled away.
He was conscious and alert and in surprisingly good condition. We immediately notified the Sheriff’s Office and contacted EMS.
Using our ATV that was specially equipped for patient transport, we brought him out of the property to the waiting EMS ambulance. He was then transported to Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital.”
Buffy said she felt shocked and grateful to discover him. More often than not, she said her Rescue Squad responds to situations that result in injuries and deaths.
“I was overjoyed we had found him alive,” she said. “It really was wonderful to have such a good outcome.”