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The Story Of A “Good Save”

Fire + Sheriff + Hospital = Success

The news is always filled with stories of people's tragedies and the fire/EMS community deals almost exclusively with them.  Firegeezer wants to turn the spotlight in another direction today and tell you a story, a good story, about an emergency that turned out better than well.

AN EMOTIONAL AND HEART-WARMING meeting was held a few days ago in the engine bay of the Falmouth fire station in Stafford County, Virginia.  Pete Sullivan, a man who served as a volunteer firefighter for 50 years in a nearby county before retiring, was addressing a group of firefighters, sheriff's deputies, and FF/Paramedics…… all the people who had come together one afternoon in May to save Pete's life.

He began by reading his story that he had prepared telling about that day when he decided to fix the brakes on his truck at home where he lives alone.  He phoned his son Billy, who is a 30-year firefighter himself, to tell him what his plans for the day were, but after much insistence Billy convinced his Dad to drive up to the truck garage where he works.  That turned out to be the first of a string of Good Fortunes that helped propel this story forward.

Just as they were finishing up, Pete collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.  Good Fortune #2 was there, though…..Billy had years of experience with CPR and recognized immediately what was happening.  Calling out to his boss to phone 9-1-1, Billy started giving CPR to his own father, a dramatic moment for him.

"I've never had anything like that happen to me before," he told me. "My own father… and for a moment I froze….  But then I remembered what to do and got the operation going.  It was the hardest thing to do in my life.  Nobody should have to do CPR on a family member."

But his experience came through and he maintained the compressions and breathing.  The "man down" call from dispatch also started the nearest sheriff units as well as the fire department.  Within a couple of minutes Deputy Stamm arrived with an AED and hooked it up before they paused to analyze the data.  Just then two more deputies arrived and relieved Billy on the CPR.  Good Fortune moment #3 ….. Stafford deputies are CPR trained and carry the AEDs.

By then time was a blur, but very shortly Falmout Engine 1 and Medic 11 marked on the scene and started the advanced CPR.  Good Fortune Moment #4 arrived with Medic 11.  It was just the day before when they began carrying the Lucas 2 Chest Compression System, today's advanced model of what we geezers used to call "the thumper."  This digital, computerized device provided steady and sure compressions and inhalations for Pete as they continued CPR and shocked him twice.  They had his heart and respirations restored in 5 minutes.  Next came the 5-minute ride to the local hospital which is also a Level 2 Trauma center.

The Lucas 2 Chest Compression device

Pete went on to tell how they place a stent in one of his heart vessels and within a couple of hours he was awake, alert, and ready to go.  They kept him for a few days though, going back to install a de-fib in his chest.

Following his remarks, Pete went around the group of firefighters and deputies thanking each one personally and shaking their hands.  It was a wet-eye moment for everyone who was there.

Pete's next errand is to speak publicly before the County Board of Supervisors and thank them as well for purchasing the Lucas 2 machines.  When the FD had first asked for the funds to buy them, the board was hesitant because of the cost, approx. $15,000 each and they wanted ten.  As you can tell, they got them and installed them on all 8 medic units and the two rescue engines.  Pete wants to show them living proof that they made the right decision.

Billy (left) and Dad show us that it's
not just the ambulance that's well equipped
as they show us their Firegeezr mugs.

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