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Local mom saved by 2 firemen 7 years ago finally gets a chance to say ‘Thank you’

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Courtesy IFFD

The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Fire Department.

IDAHO FALLS – Meet Eliza Lu Van Orden, affectionately nicknamed “Sweet and Sour” by her family. Her mom Amanda describes her as a healthy, smart and strong 6-year-old with quite the personality. We have no doubt her strength comes from her mom. You’ll understand why after reading this story.

We share this story with Amanda’s permission and her desire to thank the two first responders who saved her and her daughter’s lives, Idaho Falls Firefighter Kyle Smith and Captain Brandon Rich.

On Friday, May 8, Station 2 was dispatched to the Van Orden house to investigate smoke detectors that were malfunctioning. Amanda recognized Kyle as one of the firefighters who responded to their home in the middle of the night nearly six and a half years ago.

“I drive past Station 2 on Lincoln Road several times a day and have always wondered what their names were and what I would say to them, but I never had the courage to stop and tell them thank you,” explained Amanda during a phone conversation with IFFD’s Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon. “I was given that opportunity today.”

It was December 19, 2013, and Amanda and her husband Derek had just finished Christmas shopping and had gone to bed. Amanda, who was seven months pregnant, woke up suddenly with a sharp pain in her abdomen. She describes becoming very cold.

This was Amanda’s sixth pregnancy, so she knew something wasn’t quite right. The pain was getting progressively worse and she could not get warm, so she crawled into the bathtub where she quickly realized that she didn’t have the strength to turn on the water. Her pain had become excruciating.

She yelled for her husband, who rushed into the bathroom, lifted her out of the tub, and called their nurse practitioner. He instructed them to call 911 immediately.

“It was the middle of the night, but the ambulance showed up in two minutes,” stated Amanda. “I could not believe how quickly they got there!”

Amanda was loaded into the ambulance, with Derek by her side, and they quickly headed to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

“I remember Brandon being so incredibly calm with my husband, but Derek knew from the way the two were interacting that the situation was not good,” said Amanda.

As soon as Amanda arrived at EIRMC, she was rushed to an operating room for an emergency C-section where it was discovered that she had a uterine rupture and was hemorrhaging internally. Thankfully, the amniotic sac remained intact because it was protecting the baby. Both Amanda and Eliza Lu survived.

During recovery, Amanda was told that at some point during the surgery, she died and had to be resuscitated and that she lost a significant amount of blood and was almost pronounced dead.

“My nurse practitioner described the situation to me, telling me that she slammed her hands down on the table next to me and exclaimed, ‘No Amanda!’”

Amanda spent a few days in the hospital and was discharged home. Eliza Lu remained in the NICU where the nurses affectionately described her as a “spitfire.”

Seven weeks later, Eliza Lu joined the rest of the Van Orden family at home. She is now a happy and healthy kindergartner who has just as much thirst for life as when she entered the world.

“All of the stars aligned that night. The nurses and doctors at EIRMC were exceptional, but it would not have turned out the way it did without the prompt response and actions of Kyle and Brandon,” Amanda says, trying to hold back emotion. “I hate to use the cliché word ‘hero,’ but there really is no other word to describe them. They saved our lives and we are eternally grateful.”

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