Four dead from heart attacks.
Four lives restored.
Those lives were celebrated Friday with the recognition of 17 Washington County/Johnson City EMS and Johnson City Fire Department personnel who, in the course of their daily work, saved the four. Three of the patients were able to attend the brief recognition ceremony, and each said they were extremely grateful for the medical intervention EMS and the fire department medics gave them.
If that intervention hadn’t happened, all three patients were certain that they would not be alive today.
The Jacksonville, Florida, resident was nearing the end of a year-long work deployment in Johnson City, and staying at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel, when he couldn’t get relief from some upper abdominal pain on Jan. 11, 2018. He asked the desk clerk to call 911. When EMS personnel — Paramedic John Thomas and Advanced EMT Scott Chapman — got there, Jones said he’d had the pain for about an hour.
Thomas hooked Jones up to the EKG machine, which showed Jones was having a heart attack. The medics packed Jones up and headed to the hospital. On the way, Jones went into seizure-type activity and V-fib. Thomas used the defibrillator to get Jones’ heart back in rhythm. At the hospital, Jones had another cardiac arrhythmia and was again defibrillated.
Jones’ wife, Kathy, said she got a call around 3 a.m. that night and heard a doctor tell her her husband was in the ER. She feared it had been a car crash, but became numb when the doctor said her husband had a heart attack. One of the Jones’ children, Preston Jones, knows all too well the type of medical emergency his father experienced. Preston is a firefighter in Clay County, Florida.
“Honestly, it’s amazing. We go to these kind of calls all the time. We know what we do is important, but when it involves a family member, it brings it all together,” Preston said.
His father was also well aware of the importance the job of emergency responders. Not only is his son a firefighter, two other children are in emergency medical services.
He said it was important for him to be in Johnson City on Friday to acknowledge the two who saved his life.
Badger Faison was having trouble breathing on May 12, 2018. When three medics — EMS Paramedic Michael Shaw, Advanced EMT Kevin Wagers and Advanced EMT James Hamilton arrived, they found him in the backyard where he had fallen and broken his front teeth. But that wasn’t all that was wrong. Faison had chest tightness, general weakness and was dizzy.
A cardiac monitor showed that Faison was having a heart attack and his heart rate was over 220 beats per minute. Medics worked quickly to establish an IV to administer medication to restore an appropriate heart rate, but two doses of the medication didn’t work. After further treatment, Faison went into V-fib and the medics performed CPR and defibrillated Faison. The crew quickly got Faison to a hospital where he received futher treatment.
Faison and his wife, Linda, said they were grateful for the actions of those three medics that day because they saved Faison’s life.
Kellison had arrived at work as a home healthcare worker when she collapsed in the bathroom. The next thing she was aware of was three days later when she woke up in the hospital. EMS personnel — Paramedic John Thomas and Advanced EMT Josh Baines and Johnson City Firefighters, Lt. Travis Justice, Engineer Sam McLain and Firefighter Jared Gilliland — responded to the call about a woman having chest pains. Kellison became unresponsive after medics arrived and they had to perform CPR, give IV medication and use a defibrillator to get her heart beating again.
She said if the emergency responders had not acted so quickly, she’s sure she would have died that day.
Bee Sting Patient
Seven EMS medics — Paramedic Chris Crosswhite, Advanced EMT Michael Miller, Paramedic Todd Fleenor, student paramedic Jacob Hitchcock — and three JCFD firefighters — Engineer Kenny Keck, Firefighter Raymond Ferguson and Firefighter David Althaus — responded July 25, 2018 to an allergic reaction call. They found a woman lying in the driveway next to her car. Relatives said she had been stung by bees several times and immediately began having trouble breathing.
Shortly after medical help arrived, the woman went into cardiac arrest, and medics immediately began administering lifesaving resuscitation efforts, including CPR, establishing an airway for respiratory ventilation and administering medication to reverse anaphylactic reaction to the bee stings.
During transport to the hospital, the woman regained consciousness and was stable when medics turned her care over to hospital staff.
EMS Chief Dan Wheeley said it’s important to acknowledge the lifesaving work paramedics and medically trained firefighters do each day.
“It’s important to recognize the guys for their work,” Wheeley said. “We all get into EMS thinking we’re going to save lives and do all these great things. Day to day, we don’t see that impact we make on patients, so days like this let them see the fruits of their labor.”