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Lifesaving efforts earn awards for OXFD



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AWARD-WINNING FIREFIGHTERS Standing, from left: Brad Schick, Kelly Kilgore, Jeff Siarto and David Castle. Kneeling, from left: Kevin Snell, Sarah Racer and B.J. Stapp. Not Pictured: Dustin McCoy. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2010 - Not many folks can boast they saved two lives in four days, but the Oxford Fire Department can.

Eight firefighters will be honored Sept. 23 by the Oakland County Medical Control Authority for literally shocking two people back to life after they went into cardiac arrest.

These firefighters did an "extraordinary" job, according to Nancy Hunger, the fire department's EMS coordinator.

"They kept their cool and knew what to do when the situation arose," she said. "They did top-notch work. That's why they're being awarded through the county."

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Firefighters Kevin Snell, David Castle, Dustin McCoy and Kelly Kilgore will be honored for saving the life of 79-year-old Oxford resident Jack Miller on June 9.

Miller was having a heart attack when the fire department was called for help. As he was being transported by ambulance to the hospital, Miller became unresponsive and the EKG monitor showed his heart was in ventricular fibrillation (V-fib), a rhythm disorder.

In V-fib, electrical signals that control the heart's pumping suddenly become rapid and chaotic. As a result, the lower chambers of the heart, called ventricles, begin to quiver (fibrillate) instead of contract, and they can no longer pump blood to the rest of the body.

Unless an emergency shock is administered to the heart to restore its regular rhythm, death can occur within minutes. It's estimated more than 70 percent of ventricular fibrillation victims die before reaching the hospital. Fortunately, Miller responded to the shock and even grabbed Firefighter Snell's hand just as he was about to insert a tube to protect the patient's airway.

The second incident, for which firefighters Benjamin Stapp, Brad Schick, Jeff Siarto and Sarah Racer will be honored, occurred June 12 at the Detroit Sportsmen's Congress camping facility on Horseshoe Lake off E. Oakwood Road.

Barbara Brown, a 70-year-old from Warren, was complaining of severe chest pain and shortness of breath.

As she was being transported in the ambulance, the EKG monitor indicated her heart was in V-fib.

After being defibrillated once, Brown had no pulse. Her heart was shocked again and this time, she sat up and screamed, "EEEHHHOOOWW, don't do that again!"

Firefighter Stapp looked at her and said, "You don't do that again! . . . You were just dead!"

Brown is extremely grateful to the fire department for saving her life that day.

"Thanks is not enough," she wrote. "I know they are receiving (an) award, however, my award was they gave me my life and there are no words to describe that." Fortunately, Miller responded to the shock and even grabbed Firefighter Snell's hand just as he was about to insert a tube to protect the patient's airway.

The second incident, for which firefighters Benjamin Stapp, Brad Schick, Jeff Siarto and Sarah Racer will be honored, occurred June 12 at the Detroit Sportsmen's Congress camping facility on Horseshoe Lake off E. Oakwood Road.

Barbara Brown, a 70-year-old from Warren, was complaining of severe chest pain and shortness of breath.

As she was being transported in the ambulance, the EKG monitor indicated her heart was in V-fib.

After being defibrillated once, Brown had no pulse. Her heart was shocked again and this time, she sat up and screamed, "EEEHHHOOOWW, don't do that again!"

Firefighter Stapp looked at her and said, "You don't do that again! . . . You were just dead!"

Brown is extremely grateful to the fire department for saving her life that day.

"Thanks is not enough," she wrote. "I know they are receiving (an) award, however, my award was they gave me my life and there are no words to describe that."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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