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Phil Murdock How being prepared taught this veteran Scouter a life-saving lesson.

FactSheet Phil Murdock


CURRENT POSITION: Chartered Organization Representative, Rexburg 3rd Ward, Rexburg Idaho Stake, LDS Church

DAY JOB: English Professor, Brigham Young University-Idaho

FAVORITE CAMP: Treasure Mountain Boy Scout Camp, Driggs, Idaho. The setting on the west slope of the Tetons is spectacular, the creek is snowmelt, and water temperatures in the lake build character.

PROUDEST MOMENT IN SCOUTING: When my son used his computer skills for his Eagle project

AS AN EAGLE SCOUT, a two-decade Scouting volunteer, and an avid out- doorsman, Phil Murdock has enjoyed his share of adventures. None were as challenging, and as satisfying, as an incident that occurred in July 2010. That afternoon, Murdock

was leading a Scout rafting expedition down Wyoming’s Snake River when one of his Scouts collapsed in the raft. Murdock quickly determined that the Scout had gone into cardiac arrest and began CPR alongside another leader, who is the Scout’s father. When CPR failed to revive

the Scout, Murdock knew they had to reach medical help, located at least half a mile beyond one last set of rapids. So he piloted the raft through those rapids while giving the Scout chest com- pressions. “I’d turn around to see where the rocks were and call out commands to the boys,” he recalls. At the takeout point, the

Scout crew found some river rangers from the U.S. Forest Service and—just as impor- tant—an automated external defibrillator. Murdock used the AED to shock the Scout’s

heart back into rhythm, and paramed- ics rushed him to a local hospital, from which he was soon airlifted to a

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Salt Lake City children’s hospi- tal. Doctors there diagnosed and corrected a heart defect. By the next morning, the

Scout was sending cell phone photos of himself back to his friends and rescuers who were still at their campsite.

HOW WELL DID THE SCOUT RECOVER? He came back with absolutely no brain damage. In fact, he played football at his high school that year. When his friends asked, “What did you do this summer?” he would say, “I died.” The doctors in the hospital were amazed. They had never seen anybody survive 30 minutes under CPR and come back in good shape.

WHAT DID THIS INCIDENT TEACH YOUR SCOUTS ABOUT PREPAREDNESS? Every boy in the group understands how fast things can turn bad and that there’s no substitute for the Scout Motto they’ve been repeating for years. We’re really interested in going on trips, but we really, really like to come back from them.

YOU FOCUS A LOT ON HIGH ADVEN- TURE. WHY? The 12- and 13-year-old Scouts are OK with just campouts, but as the boys get older, they do need dif- ferent levels of challenge. The younger boys talk about an activity being fun. I

like for the older boys to talk about an activity being satisfying.

HOW CAN UNITS PREPARE FOR A HIGH-ADVENTURE TRIP? You choose a high-adventure trip, and then you reverse-engineer it, working backward from the adventure to the tasks that are going to make up your program for the next three months.

CAN YOU TEACH, SAY, RAFTING WITHOUT A RAFT? I remember an evening when we went down to a little creek and watched the water run as if it were a full-scale river. We put sticks in


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