Heroics run gamut from starting life to averting death

Local EMS workers honored for life-saving efforts

EMS Council President Leo Scaccia (from left) contratulates Kevin Hagerty and Scott Runge from Longwood Fire and Ambulance for assisting in the delivery of a baby.

By Kathleen Brady Shea Managing Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

When medical personnel arrived, the 14-year-old girl who collapsed after cheerleading practice had stopped breathing. She was one of five Chester County patients who recovered from a near-death experience this past year due to intervention by the county’s emergency services community.

On Thursday, that typically unsung group of more than 5,000 – many of whom are volunteers – received recognition at the awards banquet for the Chester County Emergency Medical Services Council Inc., an annual event celebrated during National EMS Week.

Citing the “acts of volunteerism and acts of bravery that you provide on a moment’s notice,” County Commissioner Ryan Costello extended the county’s gratitude to the responders.

“It’s always an honor to be here,” said County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “For me, it’s personal,” she added, referencing the valiant efforts of EMS workers to save her niece, who died in a Downingtown car crash last year.

The program, held at the Red Clay Room in Kennett Square, focused primarily on the success stories, honoring more than 100 individuals who participated in heroics ranging from delivering babies to bringing people back from the dead.

EMS Council President Leo Scaccia poses with Rick Stabler, recipient of the 2012 Margaret Hoover Brigham Award.

More than 350 people packed the dining room, punctuating the evening with hearty applause as their colleagues’ names were called. Emergency services providers dominated the audience, sharing space with a host of government officials and supporters.

The dramatic scenarios recounted by EMS officials could have easily filled a television series. For example, during one call last month, responders heard “a loud thump” and realized that one of their own had collapsed outside the Good Fellowship ambulance, suddenly doubling the emergency. The victim,whose potassium level has slipped precipitiously, was among a handful of patients who made a full recovery and appeared at the banquet to thank his rescuers.

Another clinical save occurred in Kennett Square, where a man collapsed after the 2011 Kennett Run and was brought back to life by Richard Franks, Michael Keiter, and Mike Reynolds from the Avondale Fire and Ambulance Companies; Matthew Eick and Douglas Rivell from the Kennett Fire and Ambulance Companies; and Aaron Ratner from Southern Chester County Emergency Medical Services.

Coatesville-area personnel provided resuscitation efforts after a 16-year-old boy collapsed after running to catch the school bus earlier this month. His rescuers included Claire Lindelow, the nurse coordinator for the Coatesville School District, a Tye Weaver and Adam Brock from the Washington Hose Company; and Jessica Kiefski and Hazel Stanton from Brandywine Hospital’s Medic 93.

A handful of babies who were overzealous to make their debut generated awards for the emergency responders who added obstetrical skills to their repertoire. They included Longwood Fire Company’s Scott Runge and Kevin Hagerty, who were called into service last May when a woman went into labor unexpectedly after attending a surprise baby shower.

Retired state lawmaker Arthur D. Hershey received congratulations for his selection as recipient of the Sen. Robert Thompson Memorial Award, an honor bestowed on an elected official who makes contributions to improving EMS systems.

One of the evening’s most coveted awards received its name and inspiration from the late Margaret Hoover Brigham, a longtime Birmingham Township resident who was the granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover and founder and first president of the Chester County EMS Council. Leo Scaccia, the current president, said the award honors a long-time practitioner whose educational and leadership skills make a lasting positive impact.

Rick Stabler, a former EMS Council head and former emergency management coordinator for Pocopson Township, took the prize after Scaccia read a litany of his accomplishments, which date back to the 1970s.

“He was one of the first guys who brought paramedic service to Chester County,” Scaccia said, adding that Stabler was also “one of the founders of the advanced life support system” in the county. “He has been incredibly involved for a long time.” Scaccia said.

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