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N.H. EMS crews recognized for teamwork in treating patient’s aortic dissection

Three EMTs, three dispatchers and one paramedic received the awards during a ceremony at Fitzwilliam Town Hall.


By Christopher Cartwright
The Keene Sentinel

FITZWILLIAM, N.H. — UMass Memorial Medical Center recognized seven local emergency service personnel Wednesday morning for their quick thinking and actions during a medical call in September.

Three EMTs, three dispatchers and one paramedic from Fitzwilliam-Troy Fire /EMS, Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid and Cheshire EMS received the awards during a ceremony at Fitzwilliam Town Hall.

The recognition stemmed from an incident involving a Fitzwilliam resident who was life-flighted to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester on the evening of Sept. 20, according to Fitzwilliam Fire Chief Adam Dubriske.

Awards were given to Jennifer Reid, a paramedic with Cheshire EMS; Paul Marchese, Lucas Baab and Christina Letourneau, EMTs with Fitzwilliam-Troy Fire /EMS; and Lt. Virginia Foote, Ashton Nyre and Robert Maynard, dispatchers with Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid.

Nick North, a member of UMass Memorial Medical Center Life Flight, presented the awards and opened the ceremony by explaining the September medical emergency.

“The crew ... were able through their assessment and triage of that patient ... to recognize and have a high index of suspicion that the patient was suffering from an aortic dissection,” he said.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, an aortic dissection occurs when blood rushes through an inner-layer tear in the body’s main artery, causing the inner and middle layers to split. It can often be deadly.

“Based off of that information, they were able to call through Keene mutual aid ... and request the helicopter as the closest air medical asset for Fitzwilliam and Troy,” North added. “Life Flight was launched ... and [was] able to meet the ambulance at Cheshire Medical Center, and that time frame was expedited.”

He added that the patient — whose name was not used during Wednesday’s ceremony for privacy reasons — went almost immediately into the operating room, and that this quick coordination likely prevented them from waiting a few hours.

Marchese discussed the quick collaboration that occurred between the emergency response groups with The Sentinel following the ceremony.

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“The patient was in her room. We assessed her; she had abdominal pain. We checked her pedal pulses. They were weak. We extricated her out to the truck, initiated care, got some IV access fluids going [and] called for a medic to show up,” he said, adding that Reid arrived and began to assess the patient.

The patient was turning gray, he said, so the two called for a helicopter while Baab and Letourneau drove the ambulance and Reid’s squad car.

“We were both on the same page,” he said. “We both knew exactly what she needed.”

Dr. Tammy Nguyen , a vascular surgeon who performed the surgery, was also honored.

“Medicine is definitely a team sport, and so often when I see patients in the hospital, I work with our team at UMass, but I never get to meet the team player on the other side, which is the EMS front line,” she said to the crowd. “The time that you saved ... is critical. She was actively leaking blood into her chest ... so just being able to expedite and recognizing that, and paying attention to detail, is so critical.”

Dubriske told The Sentinel that the Fitzwilliam resident is doing very well, and he emphasized the importance of collaboration among public safety groups.

“This shows that collaboration of ambulance providers, Cheshire County EMS, dispatch and the hospital makes [for] success,” he said.

Troy Fire Chief Mark Huntoon agreed and said the training of the EMS providers played a vital role in the fast response.

“All of our providers are great people,” he said. “They train on everything and recognize, you know, situations that could be life-threatening.”

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In a news release Wednesday afternoon, Cheshire County Administrator Chris Coates said the county “is lucky to have these professionals working in our corner of the state.”

“These dedicated healthcare and emergency communications staff ... were all quick to act, and their decision-making and care saved the life of a Fitzwilliam resident,” he wrote. "... We are deeply grateful to these seven emergency services professionals for their life-saving work.”

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