When a patient has the full resources of UC Health University Hospital mobilized for his or her care, the team of responders who started treatment in the first minutes after an emergency is sometimes overlooked.
But emergency medicine resident Baruch Fetel, MD, made sure to recognize the Green Township Fire & EMS crew whose correct diagnosis helped saved a patient’s life last fall.
In November of last year, Green Township resident Gifford Tebbs was involved in a single-car collision at a township intersection. At first, the responding EMS crew from Green Township fire station 55 assessed and immobilized Tebbs in accordance with trauma protocols.
But the team wasn’t satisfied with that course.
"He didn’t have any apparent injures, but he looked bad,” says Green Township District Chief of EMS Tom Dietz. "It wasn’t consistent with what they were seeing.”
Though Tebbs never complained of chest pain, the team performed an ECG, which quickly showed bradycardia and an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a type of heart attack caused by a sudden, total blockage of a coronary artery.
The team sent the results to UC Health University Hospital’s emergency department, where Fertel and the attending physician Stewart Wright, MD, received them.
"Due to their quick thinking and advance notice, I was able to activate the catheterization lab and trauma teams who were at the bedside with me as we examined the patient,” says Fertel.
Just 60 minutes after the accident, Tebbs was evaluated by the trauma team, headed by Bryce Robinson, MD, and was taken to University Hospital’s catheterization lab, where the team led by Imran Arif, MD, found Tebbs to have a complete blockage of his right coronary artery. Outfitted with a temporary pacemaker, he was discharged three days later with minimal effects.
"We all believe that the quick thinking of the Green Township crew led to the discovering of the heart attack,” says Fertel. "They thought outside the box. Instead of viewing the case only as a trauma, they thought about what may have caused the trauma and diagnosed the underlying condition—heart attack. That enabled us to be fully prepared to have all the teams available and get the patient to the cath lab in record time.”
To recognize the team for their work, Fertel nominated the crew for an "EMS Star of Life Award,” which they received at a May award ceremony in Columbus.
"As a department, we’ve had a lot of training on our STEMI patients,” says Dietz, who also serves as a UC paramedic. "Our first goal is to ID those patients as soon as possible, then our next goal is to notify the hospital as early as possible.”
Dietz says the team was surprised by the award but wasn’t seeking the recognition.
"Truly, what they did is something that we do every day. It’s not extraordinary,” he says. "But it does reflect our culture. The award recognizes the whole department—all our guys and everything they do out in the community.”
"They saved the patient’s life,” says Fertel. "It was my absolute pleasure to nominate the entire crew from Green Township.”
Members of Green Township’s Fire/EMS Department who received the award include:
District Chief Kevin Hummeldorf, EMT-P, Robert Kitchen, EMT-P, Jeffrey Lammers, EMT-P, Lt. Patrick Gunn, EMT-P, James Veldhaus, EMT-P, Jason Eckhoff, EMT, Lt. Jeff Sweet, EMT-P, Shaun Myers, EMT-P, and Patrick Handley, EMT
The Star of Life award is given by the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Public Safety.