Off-duty paramedic awarded after saving lives

A local paramedic was recently recognized for his fearlessness while responding to a winter crash on a slippery and dangerous stretch of Interstate 35 last February.

Mark Weiberg, who was off duty at the time, didn't hesitate when he came upon the scene on his way home from a 12-hour shift.

Weiberg said that any paramedic, EMT or first responder would have done what he did back on Valentine's Day night.

The roads were slick from a winter storm, and when fire trucks began passing him on I-35, he realized where they were headed and that they could use his help.

A family's Yukon with four kids inside lost control and ended up on its side in a ditch along I-35. A 5-year-old girl was ejected and suffered life-threatening injuries.

"They hit the patch of black ice, rolled, and it just happened so quickly and unexpectedly,” said Linda Johnson whose family was involved in the crash. “It was just quick and horrifying, and one was ejected, and they had to look for that baby."

“That was a tougher one because of the emotion on scene, trying not to involve myself with that,” Weiberg said. “I put blinders on and go to work. That's what I did."

Weiberg was the first paramedic on scene, on his way home to St. Paul after answering emergency calls in the Northfield area.

He knew people needed help, so he grabbed some equipment from the volunteer firefighters and put 20 years of experience into action.

Weiberg said he remembers that the highway was so slick that approaching vehicles were spinning out around him.
Weiberg said he had the highest degree of emergency medical training among first responders at the scene until an ambulance arrived with advanced life saving equipment.

He recalls their response was slowed because of where the accident happened and the road conditions.

Tragically, the five-year-old he tried to save didn’t make it, but the other six in the car survived.

On Tuesday, Scott County formally thanked Weiberg for his efforts, awarding him the Morris A. Miller award for risking his own life to help others.

"It was pretty special,” he said. “I’m proud of it, proud to accept it for everyone."