Fire Department installation banquets are an East Coast tradition: an annual gathering to celebrate accomplishments and seat incoming chiefs and officers. Last night, I was a guest helping honor 90 years of Jonesville Fire Department service to their community in Saratoga County, New York. Early in the program, the Jonesville Chief called several members to the podium and then invited a member of the community to speak. The gentleman proceeded to describe, not from recollection but from his wife's accounting, how he collapsed in cardiac arrest several months ago in his home. His wife dialed 911 and was unable by herself to extricate her husband from the spot he'd become wedged in the bathroom (sound familiar?). The fire department arrived moments later and started resuscitation. With CPR and multiple defibrillations, they were able to restore circulation and breathing. The local ALS ambulance service arrived and transported the speaker to a cardiac center. Obviously, he made a full recovery, returned to his work as a teacher, and wanted to take time last evening to thank his rescuers.
What struck me as the presentation unfolded was the effort that went into this event. Each one of the firefighters present attended a county run EMT program. The 911 center provides a sophisticated level of call screening and emergency medical dispatch. The response system is tiered according to caller needs. ALS is readily available. The list goes on...
While it may appear that a handful of individuals came together to conduct a very successful rescue, the real reason those firefighters were in the right place at the right time has more to do with the system behind them then chance alone. Events such as this are brilliant illustrations of when things come together for all the right reasons. We should celebrate loudly such successes!