JACKSON TWP.  The Jackson Township Fire Department got a surprise in May during the National EMS Week when it received an EMS Excellence award from Mercy Emergency Services.

It was the first time the EMS Excellence Award was given by Mercy Medical. EMS Coordinator for Mercy Medical, RN and paramedic Andrew Bolgiano said they wanted to start a new tradition of awarding local departments for their excellence as a way to honor National EMS Week.

“The award will be given once a year to an EMS crew for doing an exemplary job which would include fast response time, performing fast at the scene and using their professional skills effectively,” Bolgiano said. “The award recognizes EMS professionals for the extraordinary care and dedication to their profession.”

A recent lifesaving event in Jackson Township led to awarding the Jackson Township Fire Department. On March 8, the department was called to a Jackson Township salon for person with an unknown respiratory distress.

The squad arrived on scene within four minutes, only to find 29-year-old Nicole Dingey pulseless and she was not breathing. The New Franklin resident and mother of two had been in the local salon getting her hair styled when she became unresponsive for no apparent reason. No one on the scene knew CPR, so Dingey went without any oxygen or blood flow for seven minutes.

First responders quickly initiated CPR and defibrillated Dingey, restarting her heart, twice. She was transported to Mercy Medical Center and put on life support without much hope of survival or even brain recovery. She was not expected to make it through to the next morning.

Bolgiano said the brain can survive for up to six minutes after the heart stops. After about six minutes without CPR, the brain begins to die. He said Dingey was without CPR for about seven minutes and thought it would take a miracle for her to pull through. And then, a miracle happened.

Jackson Township Deputy Chief Time Berczik wrote, “In March, Jackson Township Fire Department (JTFD) Medic-4, staffed with three paramedics, responded to a business in the Belden Village area for a reported unresponsive female.  The initial 9-1-1 caller was unsure as to whether or not she was breathing.  Along with dispatching the medic unit, the dispatcher talked the caller through the emergency medical steps of keeping the patient secure and clearing a pathway for the responding crew.  Medic-4 was assisted by the crew from Medic-1.  

During the assessment of this young female, it was determined that she was pulseless and was not breathing.  The responders, following their medical protocols and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines, started CPR and applied a defibrillator.  AHA stresses the benefits of electricity with the use of a defibrillator.  In this case, after two shocks, the patient’s heart began beating again on its own.  However, she still needed assisted with breathing.  Using a bag valve mask, the crew performed this task proficiently.”  

Berczik added that from the time of the initial 9-1-1 call, Medic-4 was on scene in less than four-minutes.  Transport to the hospital was within ten-minutes.  As part of the protocol, Mercy Medical Center (MMC) in Canton, was contacted while en route and they were waiting for their arrival and took over care.  Three-weeks after this event, the patient walked out of the hospital on her own. 

Dingey not only survived but recovered fully with no signs of brain damage. Thanks to the quick work of the Jackson Township Fire Department and experienced and skilled team of specialists and clinical staff members at Mercy Medical Center, Dingey was able to return home to her daughters, Piper (6) and Calie (2), and her husband, Travis, after a defibrillator was surgical implanted in her chest.

Bolgiano knew that this was an exceptional case and wanted to recognize the Jackson Township Fire Department squad members for their heroic actions.

“Due to the fast response and high-quality CPR and professionalism, Nicole has the opportunity to live the rest of her life. If the EMS crew at Jackson Township hadn’t responded like they did, she wouldn’t be alive today,” Bolgiano said. “Bystander CPR is vitally important. Professional EMS response time is five to seven minutes on average nationwide. Bystander CPR starts the blood flow to the brain immediately and it can decrease the downtime.”

Several weeks after Dingey was home, her heart stopped again while she was home alone with her daughter. This time, the implanted defibrillator was there to restart her heart and save her life. The staff at Mercy Cardiovascular Institute closely monitors Dingey’s defibrillator and contacted her right away after her device was activated, confirming that her heart had stopped again and making sure she was ok.

“On May 22, as the JTFD was conducting an EMS Run Review of this call, the patient, along with her two small children, walked into the room,” Berczik said. “MMC presented the crew from Medic-4 (Captain Harrison, FF/Medic Vincent, & FF/Medic Anderson) with the first Life Safety Award. 

"All those involved, from the 9-1-1 dispatcher, the crews from Medic-4 and Medic-1, to the MMC ER staff had a huge hand in the ‘Chain of Survival’ for this young lady.  We are all blessed and pleased to be surrounded with such professionals.”