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More EMS Week Stories: Beyond the Call

In commemoration of National EMS Week 2019, May 19–25, EMS World reached out to our readers to gather stories of exemplary service, selfless sacrifice, and exceptional care delivery to honor those who are going "Beyond the Call" in EMS. We received dozens of stories and are pleased to present the top ones here.

For more stories, see our cover report Beyond the Call in our May 2019 issue.

Reaching Out to Vulnerable Populations

AMR paramedic Shawn Percival is a tireless advocate for the safety and well-being of the community he serves. Percival is a certified Community Paramedic (CP-C) credentialed by the International Board for Specialty Certification (IBSC) and a graduate of the Community Paramedic Training Program at University of California, Los Angeles. As a community paramedic, Percival works with the City of San Diego Resource Access Program (RAP) to reduce low-acuity, high-frequency callers. A large focus of his work is providing care to mental health patients and vulnerable individuals, including veterans. Percival works to provide access to primary care, addiction specialists, housing support and family reconnection services. Percival’s ability to analyze and act upon data was instrumental in helping EMS and the community understand the negative impacts of the recent Spice epidemic in San Diego. Through his research and hot-spotting abilities, Percival was able to identify thousands of synthetic cannabinoids poisonings that went unreported to the California Poison Control System. These poisonings strained EMS and law enforcement because they required both medical and behavioral interventions to keep the community safe. His actions were vital to moving forward a multi-agency driven emergency ordinance, which led to a Spice Ban in San Diego. After this ban, the City experienced a 96% reduction in synthetic cannabinoid poisonings and EMS became recognized as an important partner in the community’s efforts to address substance abuse. Percival continues to collaborate with the drug task force in the community and is dedicated to working on solutions that protect the people of his community.

Ohio Paramedicine Program Reducing Falls in the Elderly

The Community Assistance, Referrals and Education Services (CARES) program of the Upper Arlington Fire Division is a pilot community paramedicine program under the leadership of Chief Lyndon Nofziger. Team leads Mindy Gabriel, David Wisner, and Lt. Mark Weade are passionate about high-quality and evidence-based patient care, with the goal of reducing injury among their residents and allowing community members to live safely at home for as long as they like. The CARES team collaborated with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to equip their program to address the growing public health issue of falls among community-dwelling older adults in an effort to reduce fall-related 9-1-1 calls and injuries. The project involved the development of a robust evidence-based fall risk assessment protocol for community paramedics and a supplemental home modification program, which benefits from a skilled install team of firefighter-paramedics Matt Jividen and Jon Hamilton, to provide a timely and meaningful intervention for older adults at risk for falls. To date, the CARES program has reduced fall-related 9-1-1 calls by 21% and fall-related transports by 45%. The impact of the home modification project, which involves minor home modifications such as grab bar and motion-sensing night light installations, was seen from the first older adult to receive home modifications, an 87-year-old with an activity-specific balance confidence (ABC) score of 13% that increased to 52% after installation of a single grab bar. The CARES program has generated, through its commitment to their community members and to service, a substantial impact on their older adult population and is a leader in the emerging field of community paramedicine.

Creating Healthier Communities in Northern New Jersey

Valley Hospital Emergency Services in Ridgewood, NJ, is striving for a better-informed, better-prepared, and healthier community. One of the department’s greatest accomplishments has been the implementation of its MIH program, which utilizes a nurse, paramedic, and EMT to visit the homes of discharged patients for evaluations, assessing compliance and knowledge of medications, and evaluating the safety of their residences. This program is reducing readmissions among high-risk patients such as those with congestive heart failure, recent myocardial infarction, and wound care needs. Beyond this, Valley Hospital Emergency Services ensures that its employees, emergency services partners, and communities are trained and prepared in multiple facets of emergency medical care. With the advent of its Stop the Bleed program, the department has trained high-school students, teachers, and community organizations to ensure timely and appropriate bleeding control measures can be implemented, which is reinforced by the use of feedback devices to ensure delivery of appropriate techniques. The department has instituted Narcan training, CPR/AED education, and basic first-aid instruction to community-based groups. Free training is offered to community EMS volunteers, with outreach training at their facilities, in addition to regular NAEMT-sponsored courses. Through these partnerships and initiatives, Valley Hospital Emergency Services has demonstrated its commitment to quality EMS education for both providers and citizens.

Overcoming Language Barriers to Comfort a Grieving Mother

On July 9, 2017, Mecklenburg (N.C.) EMS Agency (MEDIC) was dispatched to a call of an elderly female knocking on doors and trying to get into apartments. When the crew arrived, they found a 93-year-old female walking around, visibly upset. She spoke only Russian. Once inside her condominium, the responding crew found her 73-year-old son, deceased. The crew discovered that she had been trying for 6–7 hours to get someone’s attention. The crew summoned another on-duty unit with a crew member who was fluent in Russian. After speaking with the woman, Irina Kerusenko found that she had no other family in the United States and no real family in Russia. She was alone. Irina and her partner Zac Elias remained on scene for an extended time. Zac contacted the social work staff at the local hospital, the crisis assistance team, and the Department of Social Services. Irina made her a meal, cleaned her condominium, and continued to reassure her that things would be OK. Over the next few weeks Zac and Irina arranged social services help, initiated home healthcare and made sure she had food. Most of this occurred on their own time. They arranged for a cell phone company to donate a phone and taught her how to use it. They delivered food and prepared meals. In the MEDIC mission statement the phrase “hold a hand” is used. In both a literal and figurative sense, Zac and Irina embody the spirit of this philosophy.

A Critical Save at a Florida 5K

On April 1, 2019, Anthony Kerns met with the first responders who helped save his life. Kerns was running a 5K race on Feb. 2, 2019, when he collapsed in cardiac arrest. A nurse who was running behind him immediately began to administer CPR. The Sunstar Paramedics special events team, led by Stephen Glatstein, was posted on site at the 5K and quickly responded. The special events team recognized that Kerns was in a lethal heart arrhythmia, defibrillated him, and provided life-saving cardiac support. Kerns regained circulation and consciousness at the scene. He was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was evaluated, stabilized, and prepared to be transported to Morton Plant Hospital for open-heart bypass surgery. Kerns has successfully recovered and recently returned to work. He met the first responders whose lifesaving actions were vital to his survival and recovery. During the meeting, Kerns expressed his gratitude for the first responders’ quick action that day. Kerns did not know whether he’d be alive today if they hadn’t been on standby to help. His story underscores the positive impact of bystander CPR, early defibrillation, and the high-quality care provided by the Pinellas County EMS system.

Calm During the Storm: Off-Duty EMT Saves Baby’s Life With CPR

When Brent Cinberg was awakened by screaming and a loud knock at his door at 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2017, he had no idea what to expect. As an EMT for the Elizabeth Fire Department in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Cinberg worked nights and usually slept from 9 a.m. until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. A pajama-clad Cinberg opened the door and was stunned to see his neighbor holding his 3-month old son, who was cyanotic and essentially lifeless. Several other neighbors flanked the terrified father, who handed his daughter to Cinberg, begging him to save her. The Elizabeth EMS team doesn’t perform pediatric CPR on a daily basis, and Cinberg himself hadn’t worked on a child in over a month. He also lacked the usual resources. “I had nothing,” he says. “No backpack and no partner. So I immediately went through the textbook steps in my mind and told my neighbors to call the cavalry.” Cinberg moved downstairs while performing compressions and ventilations on the baby. An engine arrived first, allowing Cinberg to put the baby on oxygen while continuing CPR. In less than three minutes, his coworkers arrived via ambulance. Cinberg placed the baby on a stretcher and provided a report to arriving paramedics. Still critical, the baby was transported to a nearby hospital. Once stabilized, she was transferred to a specialized children’s hospital for further treatment. Today, she is healthy with no long-term cognitive deficits. Cinberg credits his parents—his father was a surgeon and his mother was a teacher and volunteer firefighter—as well as his teenage job as a lifeguard for the ability to remain calm. “Additionally, I have the utmost confidence in my co-workers,” he says. But ultimately it came down to confidence in his training. “I’ve done so many calls and have seen for myself that CPR works,” he says. “So when I was in a situation that wasn’t run-of-the-mill like this one, I was prepared because I believed in my training.” Cinberg encourages everyone to have at least a basic knowledge of CPR. “The more people who can perform CPR, the better it is for society as a whole,” he says.

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