Heroes honored at EMS banquet
● By J. Chambless
Amit Dua (center), who was revived after a cardiac arrest last August, is flanked by two of his rescuers: Medic 94 medics Norman Madison on the left and Cindy Thomson on the right. At the end on the left is EMS Council President Gary Vinnacombe; on the right is EMS Council Vice President Charles Brogan.
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In the past year, 29 people in Chester County were essentially brought back from the brink of death thanks to the skill and dedication of local EMS providers.
On May 23, the 15th Chester County Emergency Medical Services Council Awards Ceremony at the Kennett Fire Company Red Clay Room recognized those countywide responders. The room was filled to the brim with about 300 responders, guests and recovered victims.
As the succession of heroes stepped up to the podium and were named, they collected their plaques and were photographed.
The council lauded 23 instances of crews performing “clinical saves.” Those awards were presented to members of the emergency services who were involved in pre-hospital saves of people who were pulseless and not breathing.
Among recipients was the team that saved local dentist Dr. Amit Dua, who lives in New Garden and has a dentistry practice in Hockessin at Lantana Square. He suffered cardiac arrest on Aug. 19, 2018 and was almost immediately given CPR by arriving Southern Chester County Regional Police officers Jeremy O’Neill and Mario Raimato. In a short time, members of the advanced life support Medic 94 team arrived and administered lifesaving aid. The members of that team were Kimberly Harvey, Norman Madison, George Hedrick and Cindy Thompson.
Dua was there at the banquet Thursday, grateful and smiling as he and his wife joined the guests for dinner.
Another six clinical saves were featured and deemed worthy of “excellence commendations.” These were instances where the patient had suffered overwhelming injuries in addition to breathing and cardiac arrest -- like brain trauma, multiple broken bones, organ damage and impalement -- and was showing imminent signs of being close to death. Advanced and/or basic life support personnel rendered interventions, and the patients were later discharged from the hospital.
Additionally, three teams gathered praise and plaques for delivering babies before the mothers made it to the hospital.
Later, individuals were singled out for special awards, such as citizen acts, public official contribution, telecommunication, educator, ALS and basic life support providers and distinguished service. Those who earned recognition from southern Chester County were the following:
Michael Porter of Longwood Fire Company received the plaque for ALS excellence and longevity. He was also among the team that made a “pre-hospital delivery.”
Kourtney Kluczynski of Avondale Fire Company received the BLS excellence award.
London Grove Township Supervisor David Connors received the award for leadership in establishing an EMS council in southern Chester County.
The Margaret Hoover Brigham Award – the highest presented -- was given to Robert Kagel, who took over as director of Chester County Emergency Services following the death of Ed Atkins in 2014. He left the EMS Council in 2018 to become the Chester County Administrator, replacing Mark Rupsis, who retired.
Margaret Hoover Brigham was the founder of the Chester County EMS Council.
Other guests who spoke were Chester County EMS director Michael Murphy; Pennsylvania Department of Health of Director of Emergency Medical Services Dylan Ferguson; EMS Council member Leo Scaccia; and County Commissioners Michelle Kichline and Kathi Cozzone.
Ferguson and Murphy both talked about dealing with the increased volume of work that EMS members are facing and how they must adapt. Murphy said he is working on a new strategic plan for the county. Ferguson said that with 40,000 calls a year in Chester County, continuing education and visibility for the members is important.
Kichline and Cozzone issued the declaration of EMS Week and presented the written proclamation from the state.
Medic 94 CEO Bob Hotchkiss, whose team was vital in many of the clinical saves, said much of the credit for the success goes to the increasing popularity of the public learning CPR. Medic 94, among other agencies, offers these classes. Medic 94 is headquartered at Jennersville Hospital.
The awards and plaques were presented by EMS Council President Gary Vinnacombe and Vice President Charles Brogan.