Ian Bagley’s family had been taking pictures on a lookout point at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim for just five minutes when they heard screaming. A two year-old girl, while looking over the railing, had fallen 35 feet to a ledge below. Her parents desperately searched for a way to save their daughter, while onlookers stood stunned. Not understanding the pleadings of her parents and family to stay still, her effort to climb back up resulted in her slipping further down until she was five feet from the next drop off—this one a terrifying 200 feet.
Ian describes the feeling as “pure shock,” but he is no ordinary 19-year-old. Having been trained in emergency response through an EMT program at a community college, Ian knew how to handle the situation.
He says, “Immediately, it all came at me, and I just knew what I had to do. I set down my camera and went up the trail a little ways where it wasn’t as steep, climbed over the rail, scrambled down a bunch of rocks and through brush, and found her.” Holding her in his arms for an hour, Ian waited until emergency teams could drop down with ropes. Ian’s mother, waiting at the top, remembers seeing the little girl and her son as they ascended with the help of rescuers. “I could see blond hair and a tiny face among all of the emergency equipment, and she held her hand out and it was wrapped around Ian’s two fingers.”
Before going, Ian, from the Fort Collins Colorado Stake, didn’t know why he decided to go with his family to the Grand Canyon, but afterwards he was sure he was there for a reason. He says, “I didn’t have a reason, I just felt like I should go. I was there, and I was able to save someone’s life.”
Ian felt lucky that he was there to help, but even more, he was grateful that multiple experiences had prepared him to do so. Training in the EMT program, for example, taught him to stay calm and manage risks. He says the program involves not only rigorous course work, but training that put him in emergency situations with fire trucks and ambulances. And then, after all the studying and training, he had to pass both a statewide and national test with written and practical sections.
Participating in the Boy Scouts for seven years, including two summers as a Boy Scout camp counselor, also provided Ian with valuable knowledge. He says that the motto “Be prepared” helped him realize that at every moment, he needs to be ready to offer help.
But Ian cites a more important preparation: “Knowing that there is a plan, and Heavenly Father put me there for a specific purpose. We hadn’t been there longer than five minutes, and it started happening. That really convinced me that I was supposed to be there.”
The gospel is also helping Ian prepare for another kind of saving: bringing souls unto Christ. As he prepares for a full-time mission, Ian recognizes his need to share with others who, as he says, “need saving, too.” While devoting a year to becoming an EMT, Ian has devoted his entire life to preparing for a mission. He cites reading scriptures, saving money, and attending seminary as methods he’s used to respond to the high standards for missionary service.
He says, “Just as I prepared to be an EMT, preparing for a mission is a long process. The certification process took a lot of work, and they tested me really hard to ensure that I knew what I was doing. In the mission field, I need to know what I’m doing, too. A lot of people don’t have the gospel in their lives, and I want to know it better and have the Spirit with me so I can help others find it.”
By using his skills before his full-time service, Ian is acting as a missionary now. His mother says that “even before he is called on his mission, he’s had a chance to be a missionary.” Local newspapers and news stations covering the event mention a two-year mission for the Church. In addition to all the inquiries in the community about his future mission, Ian received a letter from a state government official thanking him for his service and wishing him well on his mission.
While Ian walked away from the incident with a plaque and a medal from the National Park Service, worth even more is his testimony of the gospel. “I know there is a plan for everyone and there is a purpose for all things. Our Savior saves us in so many more ways than I could ever save someone else.”