On Monday, Sept. 16, while working at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Office of Emergency Medical Services, Laurie Flaherty, RN, an emergency trauma nurse, and Noah Smith, an EMT, both NHTSA EMS staff members, heard about the active shooter incident occurring at the Washington (D.C.) Navy Yard across the street from their office on M Street.
They looked out of a window facing the Navy Yard and observed a critically wounded adult male lying on the sidewalk. With the shooter holed up blocks away, shooting victim Vishnu Pandit had escaped the Navy Yard due to the efforts of coworker Bertillia Lavern, who was performing CPR on scene. A second bystander, James Birdsall, had grabbed his office's defibrillator and ran over to help, thinking the man on the street had had a heart attack.
Without hesitation, both NHTSA EMS staffers grabbed the agency's "Go Bags" and raced to the patient. They worked to control hemorrhage from his gunshot wounds and continued performing CPR until he was turned over to personnel from D.C. Fire & EMS. Despite their lifesaving efforts, Pandit later died from his injuries; however, we commend Flaherty, Smith, Lavern and Birdsall for their bravery and quick response in coming to the aid of this mortally wounded victim.
On the morning of Aug. 17, Joseph Hardman conducted CPR in the back of an ambulance as it raced toward the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) in Midtown Detroit. His patient had suffered a heart attack in a city that recently declared bankruptcy and, according to United Press International, has lost 154 EMTs in the past eight years and is infamous for ambulance wait times that are longer than it takes to get a pizza delivered in the same city, some allege.
Hardman and his remaining colleagues have had to pick up a lot of slack.
But as he got his patient's heart pumping again and after successfully delivering him to the DMC, the exhaustion of carrying a stripped-down EMS system on his shoulders finally gave Hardman a heart attack—literally.
Hardman himself was rushed into surgery and later survived the first cardiac event of his 15-year career. "I decompensated so quickly … if I hadn't been in the position I was in, I would be deceased," Hardman told WXYZ Action News, likely echoing the feelings of his patient. In a city with so few EMTs carrying such heart-stopping workloads, patients go unattended while responders nearly work themselves to death.
We chide the city of Detroit for allowing critical EMS layoffs, pay cuts and unsafe working conditions putting their patients and technicians at great risk. We hope to see changes and corrections made in the near future.
The Langone family of Nassu County, Long Island (N.Y.) recently turned the loss of their son on 9/11 into a lasting memorial in his honor. Tommy Langone, former Chief of the Roslyn Rescue Volunteer Fire Company and New York Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Service Unit (ESU) police officer, lost his life responding to the terrorist attacks of 2001.
His family recently donated a light duty rescue/EMS first responder truck to the Roslyn Company, inscribed with the message, "In loving memory of the New York City police officer Tommy Langone." Created by Odyssey Specialty Vehicles, the truck was designed to meet the specifications of an NYPD ESU Radio Emergency Patrol vehicle.
In the chaos of the attacks, the Langone family lost both Tommy and his brother Peter, a Fire Department, City of New York, firefighter, both of whom were married with children.
We applaud the Langone family for commemorating their son's sacrifice with a memorial that will continue to save lives.