Government Police/Fire

West Hartford Fire Department Honored for Saving Life of Cardiac Arrest Victim

From left: Apparatus Operator/Paramedic Dave Wheeler, FF/EMT Kristen Drapala, FF/PM Isaiah Colon, WHFD Medical Control Physician Dr. Charles Johndro (Hartford Healthcare), Lieutenant/Paramedic Sean Howard, FF/PM Victoire Will, FF/PM Jon Bush. Courtesy of West Hartford Fire Department

The West Hartford Fire Department was honored with a ‘Save Award’ by Hartford HealthCare for the team’s quick action in treating a patient who has now left the hospital.

By Ronni Newton

A cardiac arrest is one of the toughest scenarios that West Hartford firefighter/paramedics face in their role of providing advanced life support (ALS), but a recent incident resulted in an extremely positive outcome – with the victim able to leave the hospital – and members of the department were honored this month with a “Save Award.”

Lt. Rocco Laudato, the West Hartford Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) officer, said the cardiac arrest incident occurred in December 2023, and department members from Station 2 (Brace Road) Group 2 responded with Engine 2 and Medic 22 to the scene in response to a report of a person down.

“First arriving units found a patient down in the driveway with no pulse and not breathing,” Laudato said, and paramedics initiated ALS care as quickly as possible.

“This resulted in the patient having a return of spontaneous circulation. The patient was then rapidly transported to a nearby medical facility on board American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance with the WHFD paramedic,” he said.

The patient was discharged from the hospital and has returned home to their family, and as a result EMS Medical Director Charles Johndro and EMS Network Development Manager Robert Rautio of Hartford Hospital – the sponsor hospital that oversees West Hartford Fire Department providers – recognized the members of the department that responded to the incident with a “Save Award” for the superior, swift, and high level of care that was provided.

“We have a lot of medical calls where the patient has a positive outcome, but in the cardiac arrest scenario (worst-case), it is a lot less likely or common to hear of incidents that turn out this way,” Chief Greg Priest said. “I am incredibly proud of each of the individuals, the teamwork they displayed at the scene of this incident, and the overall EMS system that we have in West Hartford which supports outcomes like this.”

West Hartford was named a HEARTSafe Community in 2022 based on criteria established by the American Heart Association – including training the community in CPR, increasing the number of AEDs in town, and following aggressive resuscitation protocols. “This case is a great example where the American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival was critical and lent to a patient being able to go home to their family,” Priest said.

Firefighter/Paramedic Victoire Will, who was on duty at the time of the save, is also one of the tactical paramedics who provides medical support to the West Hartford Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit, accepted the award, and Priest said there were about 15 members of the ESU unit who showed up in support at the ceremony.

“The West Hartford Fire Department strives to provide the highest level of care to the community of West Hartford every day. We would like to recognize and thank all agencies WHFD, AMR and West Hartford Police Department that where involved and assisted in such a critical incident,” Laudato said.

From left: WHFD Medical Control Representative Robert Rautio (Hartford Healthcare EMS Network Development Manager), WHFD Chief Greg Priest, Apparatus Operator / Paramedic Dave Wheeler, FF / EMT Kristen Drapala, FF / PM Isaiah Colon, Lieutenant/Paramedic Sean Howard, FF/PM Victoire Will, FF / PM Jon Bush, and WHFD Medical Control Physician Dr. Charles Johndro (Hartford Healthcare). Courtesy of West Hartford Fire Department

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