Responding appropriately

Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2001

The Empire published a letter recently concerning a fire department response to a tragic event. The members of Capital City Fire and Rescue share in the writer's sadness and extend our sympathies to the family of the man we cared for that night. A sorrowful part of our work is to respond to tragic events in our community. The medics who respond to emergencies like the one on Oct. 14 come away from the experience saddened and at times frustrated that they can't do more. The reality is that for many patients who suffer from a sudden catastrophic event, even modern medical interventions are insufficient.

There was concern expressed that the EMS response did not appear to be as urgent as the situation required because those who responded did not run to the scene. Responders are trained to begin emergency care even before reaching the patient as well as follow pre-approved emergency medical protocols as prescribed by our physician medical directors. While approaching the patient, our responders are assessing the scene and evaluating the situation to develop the plan for immediate care. Responders carry about 70 pounds of medical equipment to the patient and running can result in a responder being less prepared to offer effective treatment during the critical initial stage of the care. Proceeding faster than a rapid walk also increases the risk of dropping equipment or falling. While it may seem odd to the observer that responders are not running at full speed to a scene, the procedures used by CCFR represent the most effective and commonly accepted practice for an emergency response.

In closing, we would like the citizens of Juneau to remember that they can help. In many circumstances, the care provided by those at the scene can make an enormous difference. We encourage individuals in this community to learn cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Several agencies in Juneau provide training in CPR. The fire department offers adult CPR classes every other Monday night; call 586-5322 for more information. By taking a CPR class, you can learn how to determine whether an ill person needs assistance with breathing and circulation and how to provide that life-saving assistance. Additionally, the information you gather about the patient's breathing and circulation will help the 911 dispatcher alert responding crews to the patient's condition.

Mike Doyle

Fire Chief

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