GARNER — In the past year, 20 Garner firefighters revived eight victims of cardiac arrest.
They were among several first responders from all over Wake County who were recognized at the seventh annual Code Save Ceremony on May 22.
To qualify for a Code Save, the victim’s heart must have stopped beating. After being resuscitated and treated, the patient is later able to leave the hospital.
“One day a month we train just on EMS,” said Capt. Bud Davenport, one of this year’s Code Save recipients. “Not fire, not houses, not rescue. One day a month we devote to do this and see it as a priority for the department, from the chief down. It is a priority and to see it come to fruition, and to see that it works is a pretty strong testament to the department.”
Dr. Brent Myers, the Wake County medical director, is responsible for the medical oversight of all clinical care provided in the county EMS system. He was recognized at the Code Save ceremony for increasing the odds of people surviving a stopped heart in Wake County.
“Dr. Myers’ mindset is making sure we have everything in the field that they have in the hospital. There is nothing they can do for people with cardiac arrest that we cannot do,” Davenport said.
Davenport has served as a full-time Garner firefighter for 20 years. He grew up with the children of the victim whose cardiac arrest led to his Code Save recognition.
“We found him in the bed, dead. He wasn’t breathing, heart wasn’t beating. My guys start doing CPR and hook him up to a defibrillator. I went to the other room to sit with his wife, prepare her for what was happening, because things really didn’t look good,” Davenport said.
But the patient made a full recovery, and even laughed on the stretcher.
Capt. Don Johnson, who has been with the Garner fire department for 15 years, helped save a woman who went into cardiac arrest last spring.
“We defibrillated her twice before the paramedics got there and continued with CPR until they took over primary care. She actually had regained consciousness and was trying to talk to us,” Johnson said.
Later, Johnson wondered what became of the woman.
“I was kind of curious if she had survived, but when I was told of the Code Save, I thought, ‘Well, I guess she did.’ I was pretty sure she would have survived, because we were able to get to her in that critical 10-minute time frame,” Johnson said.
“Paramedics normally follow up with us as much as they can, but it is hard to do,” Davenport explained. “This is very personal to us; they are not just a number to us, but often we only find out how someone is by reading the obituaries.”
Capt. Jason Deitch began his career as a junior firefighter at age 15 and has been with the Garner department for eight years. He said one person who has revived a patient in the field usually speaks at the ceremony.
“This year, a father spoke whose wife had premature twins and the babies were not breathing,” he said. “They showed us pictures of the children and thanked the firefighters. It was really good to see. ... I’m still surprised they pay me to do this. When you are doing what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
“We do appreciate the ceremony,” said Davenport, “but being recognized for it – this is just what we do. We live here. We know them. When I see Mr. Phillips walking down the road, that is a pretty good reward.”