No Fools atHenryCountyFD
April 1 was full of excitement for theHenryCounty (Ga.) Fire Department (HCFD). Just after lunch, the crew was preparing for a quick-dress drill when paramedic/firefighter Brian Waits, 38, put on his O2 facemask and fell face-first onto the floor. But this was no April Fool's prank.
HCFD Lt. Marty Miller called Waits' name a couple of times before he rolled him over and pulled off the mask. Waits was blue. He wasn't breathing and had no pulse. "This is for realƒmove!" Miller shouted.
Waits' co-workers began CPR and hooked him to a monitor. Seeing he was in V-fib, they grabbed a defibrillator and administered several shocks before putting him on a backboard and into an ambulance. Five minutes after he collapsed, Waits was en route to the hospital.
"The training kicked in," Miller says.
Although he doesn't remember it now, Waits managed to break the tension on the trip by opening his eyes and saying, "Hey, I ain't dead yet," according to Miller.
Waits' cardiologist told him he had a 99% blockage in his left anterior descending artery. The doctor speculated an occlusion had totally blocked the artery, but CPR had opened it 1%. Three and a half days and a stent later, Waits was home. Three weeks after the event he was ready to go back to work.
Waits says he's lucky he was in the right place at the right time, and with the right people, when he went into arrest.
Red Tape Hobbles Volunteer Group
Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) inBrooklyn,N.Y., has operated on a shoestring budget since it was founded in 1988 by former FDNY EMT Captain James "Rocky" Robinson and EMS Specialist Joe Perez.
Until recently, BSVAC was headquartered in a trailer, but last October, Robinson was forced to move operations to his home. "The trailer is so old, it's sinking into the ground," he says.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz authorized $135,000 for a new trailer in late 2006, but BSVAC is still waiting for it. First, the city required BSVAC to put up the money and then get reimbursed for it. But if BSVAC, located in one ofNew York City's poorest neighborhoods, had that kind of money, the volunteers could have replaced the trailer long ago. So the Independence Community Foundation came to the rescue, offering to advance BSVAC the money.
Then there was city bureaucracy. Between permits and zoning rulings, Robinson says, "They cannot get it all together. You meet with a commissioner, you think it's a done deal Ú but that was last month. What do you do?"
In late April, the city comptroller's office was supposedly ready to disperse fundsƒas soon as the Department of Buildings signed off on the plans. JEMS called that department, but the man who answered the phone didn't know what project we were asking about. He promised to look into it and call us back. Like BSVAC, we are still waiting.
The last time we checked, BSVAC volunteers were still out there running callsƒdealing with a kid shot in the park, plus a three-car collision with four serious injuriesƒwhile waiting for the bureaucrats to untangle the red tape blocking their efforts to make the community healthier andsafer.
Female Medic Wins Silver Star
A 19-year-old Army medic serving inAfghanistan is the first woman of that war and the second since World War II to win a Silver Star.
U.S. Army Specialist Monica Linn Brown fromLake Jackson,Texas, was on patrol in April 2007 when the vehicle behind hers hit an improvised explosive device. Five men in the damaged Humvee were burned and cut but managed to escape the burning vehicle. Brown and two less-seriously injured soldiers moved two badly injured men away from rounds exploding in the vehiclefire following the explosion, according to a U.S. Army press release.
When Vice President Cheney presented the Silver Star to Brown at Bagram Airfield inAfghanistan on March 20, he said Brown had repeatedly shielded her patients with her body during the two-hour attack, directing other soldiers to hold IV bags while she prepped her patients for air evacuation.
"Somewhere in the mix, we started taking mortar rounds. It became a huge commotion, but all I could let myself think about were my patients," says Brown. "I realized that everything I had done during the attack was just rote memory. Ú I know with training like I was given, any medic would have done the same in my position."
AllEMS personnel are heroes, but Brown's performance in extraordinary conditions earns her a silver Thumbs Up.