Paramedics assigned to the fire station at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head were honored May 17 for life-saving work they performed during the last year. Four firefighter-paramedics were recognized with Navy Fire and Emergency Services Life-Saving Certificates for actions that saved five lives on the installation and in the local community.
The rescues outside the base's fence line were performed as fulfillment of the ongoing mutual aid agreement between Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) and local Maryland communities.
"These gentlemen have been very busy this year," said Tracy Hall, chief of the NSF Indian Head Fire Department, of the paramedics. "This [recognition] is not something we take lightly. It's not something we just do, but when these guys make a difference, like they have been in the community and we have the outcomes that we've had, we decided they needed to be recognized."
Firefighter-paramedics George Edelen, Frankie Hannah and Wayne Sanders were recognized for saving one life on Oct. 14, 2011, when they "administered life-saving care to a patient having seizures and cardiac arrest, thereby saving his life," according to the citations.
Edelen and Sanders were also recognized for actions on the Potomac River on Dec. 15, 2011, when they rescued a duck hunter whose boat had capsized into the frigid water. Sadly, another hunter on the same boat had already slipped beneath the water by the time the paramedics arrived on-scene. His body was recovered the next day. NSASP received a letter of thanks from the victim's family for the support provided during the tragedy.
"The way you guys handled this event was appreciated," added Capt. Pete Nette, NSASP commanding officer. "Thank you."
Hannah and Sanders were recognized for a Jan. 4, 2012 call, when they worked as a team to administer "life-saving care to a female patient in cardiac arrest, thereby saving her life," according to the citations.
Edelen, Hannah and Sanders saved another life on Apr. 18, when they gave life-saving care to a 64-year-old female in cardiac arrest.
The last firefighter-paramedic to be recognized was the firehouse rookie, Jeremy Misenhelder. He had less than two months on the job when he worked with Hannah and Sanders on May 9 to administer life-saving care to a 74-year-old female in cardiac arrest. All three men received Life-Saving Certificates for their actions.
In addition to certificates, the firefighter-paramedics received a lapel pin denoting the number of lives each man has saved. The visual recognition has been an important feature of the Navy Fire and Emergency Service Program since 2010.
"It shows you the significant and valuable service these guys provide," said Carl Glover, the Chief of Naval Installations Command (CNIC) director for Navy Fire and Emergency Services, who attended the ceremony. "We certainly appreciate them."
For the rookie Misenhelder, the pin denoted one life saved. For the veteran Edelen, the pin denoted seven lives saved.
"We're fortunate to have an advanced life support unit here at Indian Head," said Edelen. "In short, we can pretty much do everything for somebody in the back of our ambulance that they can do for you in an emergency room, shy of three things: lab work, major surgical procedures and x-rays. If we're in a pinch, we have a radio and we can consult with any specialist in the Washington metropolitan area and get orders to do special [operations] and procedures."
Edelen and firefighting leaders from NSASP and NDW praised a new piece of gear onboard NSF Indian Head's ambulance as a major upgrade in their life-saving capabilities. The Lifepak 15 defibrillator can administer drugs, provide electrical treatment and is capable of raising and lowering a patient's blood pressure. The technology is not cheap, but it provides the installation and region with the most advanced life-saving gear available.
Of course, such technology is of limited use without skilled people to operate it. "Here at Indian Head, we're determined and we're aggressive," said Edelen. "That's why we do what we do. I think the guys here have the same attitude I do; we're determined to do the job and have a successful outcome. If you don't give up, you're going to have a good outcome. With that and the Lord on our side, we do a good job."
Edelen had barely finished his remarks when a call interrupted the ceremony. He, along with Hannah, Misenhelder and Sanders scrambled to the ambulance to respond to an off-base call. A minor was suffering from a potential drug-overdose and needed immediate transport to the hospital. The minor, like the community around NSF Indian Head, was in good hands.