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Firefighters receive donation of two life-saving defibrillators

May 17, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Everyone knows that being a firefighter is an inherently dangerous job.

However, most people probably don’t realize that the number-one cause of death for firefighters on the job is heart attack.

Fighting a hot fire while dressed in heavy protective gear and lugging around heavy equipment in a stressful situation puts a tremendous toll on the body and every year there are firefighters who are fighting for their lives after falling while on duty.

That’s one of the reasons Orangeville Fire Chief Ronald Morden wants to see an Automatic External Defibrillator on every vehicle in the Orangeville Fire Department fleet.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 223, Orangeville, recently donated $6003.50 to the fire department with the funds slated to go toward the purchase of two defibrillators.

The fire department will have four defibrillators on hand and is hoping to get two more so all six of their vehicles will be equipped.

The defibrillators are similar to the types seen at arenas and other public spaces that are known as public access defibrillators.

“They are the same principle, but these type are a little more advanced as they have an EKG screen on it that actually shows the heart rhythm that the lay person usually isn’t able to interpret,” explained Chief Morden. “To be used on a patient the patient has to have no pulse and is unresponsive. When the heart goes into fibrillation, that’s were it starts beating really rapidly, so it’s not effectively pumping blood through your body.”

The cost of one modern defibrillator is around $3000.

The other obvious reason for having defibrillators on fire trucks is to protect the public and possibly save lives when they get a call to a person in distress.

If there are multiple calls at one time and trucks are dispersed to different areas, the defibrillators are only available a the site where vehicles are equipped.

“We run a number of calls in Orangeville and there are times when we’re responding to multiple calls at one time. If we’re able to equip any fire apparatus with that device, no matter where that fire apparatus may be in town they are still able to offer the same service. That’s a benefit to the municipality. The other advantage is to our fire fighters’ health and well-being. Heart attack is the number one killer, on scene, for fire fighters. If you can imagine wearing a snowmobile suit in the middle of August – that’s what we have to wear all the time. If we’re put into extreme heat conditions and we have an elevated body temperature, just the exertion of putting out the work – that heat and exertion can cause stress on the heart,” Chief Morden explained.

The Chief estimates that the department uses defibrillators around 12 times each year in Orangeville. It doesn’t always work but several people each year are saved by the department’s actions.

He cited a case last year were a young boy collapsed while on a sports field and fire fighters were able to save his life using the defibrillator.

“Sometimes it doesn’t work but there’s some really good stories that come out of it as well. Due to our call volume, if our main apparatus is out of the station at a motor vehicle accident, there’s many times we’ll get another call for a medical call somewhere else in town. There were times before when that apparatus responded and they didn’t have that technology aboard.”

The donation by the Legion will give local fire fighters added protection on the job while providing the public with possible life-saving technology.

         

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