Shell Knob Boy Scout makes life-saving decision

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Boy Scouts recognize selfless act with Medal of Merit

The Boy Scouts of America will present a 14-year-old scout from Shell Knob with the Medal of Merit at 8:45 a.m. Saturday in the Crowder College Cassville Campus for saving the life of another scout.

"I guess I am humbled by it," said Michael Bernsen, who is a Life Scout with Troop 185 in Cassville. His parents are Jerry and Kathy Bernsen.

In 2013, Boy Scouts from southwest Missouri had a campout from June 16 to 22 at Camp Arrowhead in Marshfield. Bernsen was 12, and his rank was First Class.

After Bernsen was returning from an archery session around 3 p.m. on June 18, 2013, he looked over at another scout, and he heard him wheezing, according to a general account that Bernsen gave to the Boy Scouts.

"He was nauseated," said Bernsen in an interview with the Cassville Democrat. "He started talking about seeing benches over on the side of the path when there was nothing but weeds."

The scout suddenly collapsed, according to his account to the Boy Scouts.

He finished his First Aid merit badge the previous year.

"I learned about all of the signs of heat stroke [and dehydration]," he said. "He had so many symptoms of everything. I couldn't figure out what it was. I still don't know what was exactly wrong with him."

He carried the scout on his back up a hill for at least 100 yards in more than 90-degree heat, Bernsen said.

The hill was probably at a 45-degree grade, if not more, Kathy Bernsen said.

The closest camp was Troop 185, Michael Bernsen said. He called for help.

The scout was transported by a medical golf cart, he said.

"The scout was immediately transported to the emergency room and treated for severe dehydration and respiratory distress," according to another general account of the incident.

The scout came back the next day, Bernsen said.

"I didn't see him for the rest of the campout," he said. "I found the rest of his troop, and they all thanked me and tried to buy me ice cream and stuff."

Kathy and Michael Bernsen said they do not know the name of the scout.

"For confidentiality reasons, they can't release that," Kathy Bernsen said.

She said she is proud of her son.

"Michael has always been caring and considerate to other people," Kathy Bernsen said. "He is a good kid."

The Boy Scouts from southwest Missouri gather Saturday at the Cassville campus for Merit Badge University, she said.

"Anyone who would like to come and support him in receiving that award is welcomed to come," Kathy Bernsen said.

Michael Bernsen, who meets with his troop from 6:30-8 p.m. every Monday at First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, located at 602 West St., is trying to become an Eagle Scout. He is an eighth-grader at Shell Knob School. Crowder College, where the ceremony will take place, is located at 4020 N. Main St.

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