Pickerington Times-Sun

Training seminar keeps firefighters up to date

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About 60 firefighter/paramedics with both the Violet Township and Truro Township fire departments convened upon Violet Township Fire Station 592, 8700 Refugee Road, from Feb. 11-13 to be schooled in the latest advanced cardiac care techniques.

They were there for a one-day re-certification class in ACLS, or "advanced cardiac life support," procedures, an essential training seminar that helps provide safety forces with the latest tools needed to save lives in the field.

Violet Township Assistant Fire Chief Mike Little said his department shares the training with Truro Township in Reynoldsburg because the department have a close working relationship, both geographically and professionally.

"It's shared resources -- we do a lot of mutual aid," Little said.

"It helps to know each other so there is an expectation of what you're getting on a run," he said. "You know what the level of expertise is."

ACLS is an essential tool in assisting a paramedic to make the correct determination as to whether a patient is having a heart attack in the field, Little said.

"They can transmit an advanced-level EKG (electrocardiograph) to the hospital from the field," he said.

"The physician in the (emergency room) can receive that EKG prior to our arrival and, based on what the doctor sees, our guys are going to be told to take the patient directly to the ER or to the 'Cardiac Cath' lab where a cardiologist will be waiting to do a cardiac catheter (procedure) immediately."

Little said ACLS is so crucial because it helps the paramedic determine the level of care very quickly. When one is in the business of saving lives, timing is paramount.

"That's a major deal -- a really big deal," Little said.

"When you have a blockage, your heart is deprived of oxygen.

"The muscle begins to die because it's lacking oxygen," he said.

"The sooner you get that blockage opened up it saves that muscle," Little said.

"The adage we always go by is 'time is muscle,' " he said.

The closest cardiac catheterization lab to Violet Township is Mount Carmel Hospital East, Little said.

Little, who has been a paramedic since 1995, said from his experience, spikes in heart issues can be seasonally determinative.

"Sometimes we see a spike in chest pains and possible heart attacks with a lot of snow." he said.

"People out shoveling snow, some may not be in the best of shape.

"It may look easy, but it is not an easy job," Little said.

Hunters and those who embark on new exercise programs are equally vulnerable if not in good physical condition, he said.

Little said the ACLS training will continue to save lives. The rigorousness of the classes demand it.

"It's not an easy course, and it shouldn't be," he said.

"It's part of our medic protocol. These guys use it every third day when they go on runs."

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