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Ala. fire, EMS crew recognized for FD’s first ALS save

Hanceville firefighters responded to a cardiac arrest call in January after receiving ALS training, certification


Hanceville Fire & Rescue/Facebook

Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Earlier this year, Hanceville fire and police responded to a local medical call; one in which the victim showed signs of experiencing a heart attack. But thanks to a recently obtained round of certifications that allowed trained fire staff to administer emergency treatment at the scene, they were able to save the patient’s life.

“It was successful — that patient is still walking around today,” said assistant Hanceville fire chief Bart Absher. “It happened in January, and it was the first cardiac arrest call that we responded to after we went [to] Advanced Life Support, which gives us the ability to deliver drugs and perform emergency intervention at the scene. In this case, it made the difference.”

Last week, Absher and Hanceville police chief Josh Howell recognized the police and fire staff involved in that response — the first among many future Hanceville emergency call-outs to make use of fire department staff who received Advanced Life Support (ALS) certification training last December from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

ALS, as fire chief Rodger Green explained to The Times last year, qualifies trained fire responders to administer most of the same first-response treatments that a trained EMT can provide — without having to wait for an actual ambulance to arrive. “We’ve been at the basic level all along, and have been able to run basic [medical response] calls for years,” Green said. “Now we have gone to an ALS service, which enables us to start IVs and give certain medications for, for example, seizures, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes calls.”

The Hanceville City Council looked on as Absher awarded officer Zack Hightower and fire fighters Green, Britt Banks, Tina Weeks, Shannon Hipp and Derek Benefield a recognition from Zoll, the manufacturer of the monitoring and defibrillating equipment the city obtained in order to put its firefighters’ ALS certification into practice in the field.

“It’s a clinical lifesaving award that they present anytime we have a lifesaving cardiac arrest event,” Absher said. “Since this was our first one, we thought that it would be good for the council to join in in recognizing everyone and see firsthand that our ALS certification began paying off in our community, almost just as soon as our firefighters obtained it.”

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