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First Responders Honored for Saving Man Left Dangling from Tree for 6 Hours

First Responders Honored for Saving Man Left Dangling from Tree for 6 Hours
First Responders Honored for Saving Man Left Dangling from Tree for 6 Hours
Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 07:28:21-04

CRAWFORDVILLE, FL (WTXL) - Eleven people were honored at the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office Thursday for saving a man's life in March.

When Communications Officer JoAnn Taylor answered the 911 call on March 20th, she thought it would be like any other.

"A lot of the time we get just common, everyday calls. You know, little stuff. This one -- this one was pretty intense," said Taylor.

According the Sheriff's Office, John Mortensen was hunting for turkey near Newport when his tree stand collapsed.

Sheriff Charlie Creel said Mortensen's foot caught in a strap during the fall and he was left dangling upside down, almost 10 feet in the air.

Taylor says Mortensen hung from the tree stand for several hours before he was able to get his cell phone from his pocket and call 911, but his bad luck wasn't over.

Mortensen told Taylor where his truck might be but when first responders went to find it, it was no where to be seen.

That's when Sheriff Creel says Taylor stepped up to help first responders on the ground find Mortensen.

"The way our system works we have one map that shows where the cell phone is located and then we have another mapping system where we're able to track where our deputies are," said Taylor.

Using the two maps, she guided the first responders through the wooded hunting roads, getting them closer and closer to where Mortensen was trapped.

"They were about to turn around when I told them 'No, you need to go in a little bit further... He's further in there and says you can see his truck from the road,'" said Taylor.

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Mortensen's truck was found two miles from where he originally told Taylor it would be.

"We were able to tell him, 'They're close, they can see your truck, can you start hollering?' and he did," said Taylor.

The responders heard Mortensen and cut him down. He had been hanging from the tree for an estimated six hours and had to be transported out in a truck; the fire engine couldn't drive through the woods.

"I didn't realize the extent of it until the guys came back out and we got him loaded and then they started calling and saying this guy really was not going to make it if you had not sent us on further down that road," said Taylor. "It was a definite Adrenalin rush, an Adrenalin high... It felt -- it's incredible."

Ten individuals including deputies, firefighters, paramedics and even two helicopter pilots that assisted in the search received certificates of appreciation from the Sheriff.

"They need honor," said Creel. "It's not every day that you're involved in saving someone's life. And they did it and this man -- if not for these people he would have died."

Taylor was given the Lifesaver Award and Creel says he is also nominating her for the Florida Sheriff's Association, Communications Officer of the Year.

"She went way above and beyond," said Creel. "To utilize technology and think that quick on her feet to save this man's life -- hopefully this isn't the only recognition she is going to get."