First responders are recognized by the Fishers Fire District for three incidents that saved three lives
VICTOR — The Fishers Fire District Saturday recognized and celebrated first responders who assisted three separate victims by providing resuscitation services. The first responders were honored during a luncheon and awards ceremony at Fishers Fire Station 2.
“It’s not common to meet people we come in contact with, in this way, doing the work that we do. But here we are, and I think that’s a very good thing,” said Andy Stromfeld, chief of the Fishers Fire Department. Stromfeld went on to discuss the small window of time available for victims to make a full recovery, and how an individual’s chances for survival “decrease by 10 percent for every minute that passes before an AED is utilized.”
Event organizer Drew Cusimano, who also works as a firefighter and EMT, reinforced this detail. According to Cusimano, only 8 percent of individuals “go back to having a normal quality of life,” following cardiac arrest. The three survivors of these incidents, who were present at the ceremony, illustrated the “great relationships” and training the Fishers Fire Department had with their community partners, Stromfeld said.
Following Stromfeld's speech, Cusimano took the podium, and discussed the specifics of each case.
The first event occurred at Eastview Mall on July 21, 2017, with 66-year-old Cynthia Carlson “laying on the floor on her side,” according to Eastview security guard and first responder Adam Snell. Ontario County Sherriff’s Deputy Dyson Williamson and Snell “were the first two there,” within 90 seconds of the call coming in, according to Cusimano. Snell began to administer the Heimlich maneuver, in order to assist Carlson, who was “doing her best to cough it out.”
She soon became unresponsive, so the fire department, which had arrived at the mall two minutes after the call was made at 12:32 p.m., switched to CPR. The Victor-Farmington ambulance arrived at 12:43 p.m., according to Cusimano, with the two paramedics able to “successfully get breaths in and revive her,” along with a returning pulse. Thirteen minutes after the call was placed, she was being transported to Strong Memorial Hospital.
As Cusimano said, this first incident illustrated the need for following the procedures for proper resuscitation. While 13 minutes from the time Carlson began choking “is not really conducive to life,” the fact that, “we had folks there within 1 minute doing the proper procedures really added to the difference.” Cusimano thanked Carlson for attending, while she thanked the department in return.
The other two events occurred in the same location. Near the end of August, 40-year old David Heisler experienced cardiac arrest on the soccer field of the Pinnacle Athletic Complex in Victor.
“Deputy Chief Ryan Miller administered one defibrillation and was able to bring him back,” Cusimano said. He then said how “his total downtime was about six minutes,” before adding how Heisler was quite the character.
Heisler, in the hospital, wanted to get a photo with the first responders who had come to visit him. However, as Cusimano recounted, “he couldn’t find his phone, it was wrapped up in the bed sheet.” As a result, he gave his number to one of the visiting firefighters who called it, with the ringtone being the song, “Pants on the Ground,” leading to plenty of laughter from the audience.
The last incident also occurred at the Pinnacle Athletic Campus, on Nov. 11. James Gaffney, 59, experienced cardiac arrest. He was receiving assistance from a Pinnacle Hill employee, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and an off-duty fire lieutenant, “so if you’re going to go down, the few people that were there were probably the best group that you’d want,” Cusimano said. After receiving three shocks from the on-site AED, Gaffney began displaying signs of life, and was taken to Strong before making a full recovery, Cusimano said.
Each of the first responders received a Hero Award from the American Heart Association, for their work in helping each individual in need of resuscitation. This included 911 dispatchers and nursing staff at Strong, who often went overlooked, according to Cusimano.
“It’s the chain of survival, it’s where it begins and ends,” he said.