Longtime Edwards man’s death may save others
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado Dugan Propernick was the life of the party Very outgoing, said his nephew, Tom Jenkins of Grand Junction. If you met him, you wouldnt forget him.Dugan, who lived in Edwards for 30 years until 1994, wont be forgotten at Vega Reservoir, where he died after having a heart attack while fishing with his favorite people his family June 30.He was having the time of his life in a boat at the upper reaches of Vega Reservoir when he collapsed. The medical emergency took place during a family reunion, and there were nearly 100 family members there.Jenkins, a retired fire fighter for the Gypsum Fire Protection District, along with his aunt Nikki Jenkins and cousin Heather Jenkins, and other trained family members and volunteers performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on Dugan for more than 45 minutes the time it took the Mesa Fire Department to arrive.Paramedics brought with them an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, which, under certain circumstances, can stimulate the heart and get it started again.It was too late for Dugan, but his family decided not long afterward that it wont be too late for others. The family chose to save memorial contributions and buy an AED to leave at the reservoir for the Park Service to have in the event of future emergencies.It was brought up, do we have an AED on site? Is there one around? Jenkins said, recalling the frantic moments trying to save his uncles life.Then later, It was sort of a family discussion should we do something?
Dugan Propernick was born in Leadville and moved his wife and children to Edwards in 1964. He worked then at the Flemming Sawmill and later worked at B&B Excavating, the Vail Concoco and Gulf stations, the Highway 6 & 24 Garage, Dugan Construction and Vail Associates. He was known to a lot of people in Vail Valley, said family members, who spent the nearly $2,000 in memorial donations on an AED unit with extra pads for adults and children for Vega Reservoir.Its not as easy as buying a unit and delivering it, said Jenkins.You have to have a doctors prescription to purchase one, Jenkins said. It took a while to get the red tape cut.Also, the family wanted the AED unit to be the same model used at nearby Plateau Valley and Mesa fire departments, so paramedics would be familiar with the model.The Park Service personnel were trained in CPR and AED in October, said Dugans wife, Linda Propernick.Sunday, the family donated the unit to Vega State Park, where Park Manager Bob Miller accepted.It would be nice to have a unit, which is about the size of a Mesa County telephone book, in each of the park vehicles, said Miller.A lot of times, were the first on-scene, Miller said. The key is to get an AED on scene by five minutes.In Millers 23 years in the state park service, hes helped perform CPR on six to seven people. Not once has he had an AED unit, and not one victim lived, he said.We were told they have two at Sylvan Lake (in Eagle) and one of them saved the life of a 5-year-old girl, said Propernick.They had just gotten the AED there. They only had it on the park for three weeks, Miller said. They administered a shock and revived her.
There may be more opportunity for Dugan to save a life.The Propernick family has kept the Alpine Bank fund open under the name Dugan Propernick and will buy another AED for the Park Service, said Propernick.If anyone wants to donate, Im sure there are other places that need them, Jenkins said. If it helps one life, its well worth it.It feels good to have done this, Propernick said. I think it might accomplish some good.Propernick said her husband so enjoyed fishing, camping in their fifth-wheel and spending time with family, including his grandkids.They called him Grumpy Grandpa sometimes, Propernick said chuckling. He was funny. He made you laugh.We sure do miss him.Jenkins recalled the last day of his uncles life.The last words out of Dugans mouth were, Isnt this the life? Jenkins said. He was with family and in a boat.