EMTs are tournament MVPs Ambulance crew saves elderly man’s life at volleyball event
LARUIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
The Susquehanna Smash Volleyball Tournament was a big event for Lititz, with more than 600 teams participating.
When two Warwick Ambulance crew members stationed themselves on the second day of competition, Aug. 4, they were expecting injuries like sprains, broken bones or maybe heat exhaustion from all the activity. Little did they know, they would be called upon to save a life.
Set up in the middle of the action, EMTs Joe Jarkowsky and Katie Noon were prepared for any emergency.
And then it happened.
"We were alerted by a Susquehanna Smash staff member that there was a man in the parking lot who needed medical attention," said Noon.
When the responders arrived there was a man in his 80s sitting in the front seat of a car.
"He was there to watch his great-grandson play volleyball," said Jarkowsky.
The man was pale, sweaty and unconscious, and he did not respond to any stimuli. Jarkowsky and Noon found that he was still breathing, but they were unable to get a blood pressure reading or find a pulse in his wrists. The only other sign of life was a faint pulse in his neck.
"The patient had a faint pulse and was not breathing very well so I asked Joe for our backboard," said Noon. "Oxygen was placed on the patient and his head was moved so that the airway was completely open."
The two got the man out of the car and placed him onto the board. He stopped breathing. The two EMTs attempted to place a device, known as an oropharyngeal airway, to keep the airway open. But the patient’s jaw was tightly clenched and impossible to open.
That’s when they realized their training in new high performance CPR was going to be vital in saving their patient’s life.
Jarkowsky was able to place a tube in the nasal airway so that oxygen could be restored. Just as he went to get the automated external defibrillator (AED), the patient’s heart stopped.
"I began doing compressions on the patient and the patient began to breathe again on his own," said Noon, adding that after the compressions were done, she checked for and found that the man had a pulse in his wrist.
It was strong, but irregular. The man was alive.
The EMTs took his blood pressure and were able to attain vital signs. Just then the transporting truck arrived with a paramedic, and the patient was transported to Lancaster General Hospital.
According to Frank Kenavan, president of the Warwick Community Ambulance Association, word is that the man, who is not from Lititz, survived. They do not know what caused the problem, nor do they know exactly how he is doing.
That, says Kenavan, is often the case. Emergency crew members may rescue a patient, but never know what happens after that. But it’s gratifying to know that their actions saved a life.
It is also gratifying to know that the newest protocols being used by EMTs for CPR have been so effective.
"I have personally found that they are very effective," said Noon. "I have had two saves using these protocols. Statistics show that more uninterrupted compressions raise the probability of the patient having a return of spontaneous circulation."
As she continued, "It is like starting the lawn mower, when you pull it hard and fast, it catches and starts working on its own."
The two EMTs explained that in the past when the patient had labored breathing or stopped breathing, a bag valve mask was used to breathe for the patient. In cardiac arrest, EMTs would do 30 compressions to two breaths.
"With the new high performance CPR, the patient’s airway is supported and an oxygen mask is placed on the patient. Instead of doing 30 compressions to two breaths, the providers will do 200 compressions and stop after the compressions and let the AED analyze to see if it is necessary to shock the patient. If no shock is necessary, 200 more compressions are given and it continues."
The emphasis of the new CPR protocols is on compressions. Studies have found that when the chest compressions are done, air is pulled into the lungs. While oxygen is very important to keep the brain alive, the amount that is pulled in is sufficient.
"The focus is on compressions because it is important for the heart to continue beating and circulating blood throughout the body," said Noon.
The quick response of the EMTs and the use of the new CPR technique are credited with saving this man’s life.
"The ambulance is incredibly important. We have spent countless hours training and being educated on how to handle life and death situations," said Kenavan. "In the case of this patient, had medical personnel not been nearby, he would have died in the car."
The Warwick Community Ambulance Association serves residents and businesses in Lititz Borough, as well as portions of Warwick and Penn townships. The WCAA hosts continuing education courses for EMS and also offers traditional American Heart Association CPR classes to those who are interested.
WCAA is about to expand its building at 151 North Lane, Lititz and will be seeking community support for the project that will help to serve the area better. Among the services they provide are emergency medical care and transport, non-emergency medical transport and paratransit services. For more information, check warwickems.org.
More WARWICK AMBULANCE, page A18