(May 16, 2016) “911, what’s your emergency?”
The call came in at 7:49 a.m. The crews at Adams Regional Emergency Medical Service, Inc. had just completed their morning vehicle and equipment checks. One of the ambulance crews was getting ready to move out to a sub-station while the crew remaining in the station had started preparing breakfast.
But once 911 dispatch toned for a motor vehicle crash with unknown injuries, the ambulance crews jumped into action.
Paramedic Kevin Bakey and EMT Robin Hoff responded in MICU 54-1; Chief Eric Zaney and his son, Taylor (a criminal justice college student on a ride-along for the day), responded in Medic 54; paramedic Robert Hower and EMT Kim Woolcock responded as back up to assist in MICU 54-3.
While en route, additional information from dispatch reported that the response was medical in nature and was possible cardiac arrest. Bystanders were on scene and unable to get the patient out of the vehicle.
Upon arrival, emergency responders found the vehicle to be partially on its side over an embankment. There were multiple bystanders holding on to the vehicle to keep it from completely flipping over. There was also a small fire present in the engine compartment.
A rapid assessment showed that the patient was unresponsive and cyanotic (blue in color). Emergency crews were able to access the patient through the passenger door and rapid extrication was completed by Bakey, Zaney and Hoff. A few helpful bystanders helped get the patient up the hillside and on to the roadway.
At this point, CPR was started immediately and advanced life support equipment was readied. The patient was defibrillated twice on scene, an IV was established, the patient was intubated and Epinephrine was given. Fortunately, the patient had a spontaneous return of circulation in the ambulance, just prior to arrival at the hospital.
Due to the rapid and safe response time (a total of six minutes), outstanding teamwork and training, the Adams Regional Emergency Medical Service crew was able to successfully save this patient’s life.
“There are a lot of things that come into play with an incident like this to be successful,” said Steve Rabine, VFIS training and education specialist. “Some of our success may be due to luck, but the first step is to have an effective training program, which gives the responder the tools and techniques to do their job effectively and most importantly safely. The training program should consist of patient care and handling skills, as well as an effective driver training program. If we don’t arrive at the emergency scene because we are involved in an accident, we are not effective and are unable to make a difference.”
Although this may seem like a routine success story, there are many things that need to go right in order to make this kind of save. Preparation is key. There are many hours of training and continued education that are needed to perform the life-saving techniques that were used in this incident. It’s also very important that EMTs perform routine checks of their emergency vehicles, equipment and supplies.
We also must respond to the incident scenes safely and transport patients to the hospital in a safe and efficient manner. Emergency incidents, for the most part, do not come to us; we have to respond to them. Having proactive driving policies and procedures in an organization is the first step to ensure that the responder arrives alive. Continued education in regards to operating emergency vehicles starts with an effective driver training program.