Impact Manager at RQI Partners Rod Kimble presents career firefighter John Brugnoli with the Heartsaver HERO Award. / Photos by Monica Zalaznik

Six firefighters earn designation as Heartsaver Heroes for life-saving CPR administration

BUCKHANNON – Six Buckhannon Fire Department members were recognized by the American Heart Association for their use of life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

Impact Manager at RQI Partners Rod Kimble gathered two crews from the Buckhannon Fire Department Oct. 31 to present them with Heartsaver HERO Awards. The six recipients are career firefighters Maria Potter, Shane Jenkins, Firefighter First Class John Brugnoli, Firefighter First Class Ethan Smith, Capt. Brian Elmore and Capt. Linn Baxa.

“RQI Partners is a subsidiary of the American Heart Association and the focus for our company is about quality improvement around resuscitation attempts,” Rod Kimble said. “With that being said, today, I feel like we’re here to celebrate life – life that may not have been here if some trained hands hadn’t been there and quickly been able to do what they did, and in a short amount of time.”

He said fire departments are tasked with saving all kinds of items with an estimated value, but life is unquantifiable.

“If you think about it, nothing is more valuable than life, as far as I’m concerned, whether it’s ourselves or our family, people around us, but over the years working with the American Heart Association, they’ve tried to quantify what a life is worth,” Rod Kimble said. “There’s a lot of formulas out there that calculate age, what they make in a year, what they contribute to the community, and it’s really not easily quantified. But I think what we must do is ask a family member of a patient, what it’s worth — and it’s worth everything.”

In the past, fire departments did not respond to CPR calls.

“I think up until about 15 years ago, we really focused more on property,” Rod Kimble explained. “We would go rescue people don’t get me wrong, but rescue was probably a little secondary to what we did on a daily basis, spraying water on fires and cutting cars. About 15 years ago, the operations changed a little bit, and we started going to people with major medical issues, and in the time I spent in the department, I can tell you that CPR was rarely done by anybody in the fire department. It’s a common occurrence now and the saves are happening more and more and more.”

Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble said the department, a combined volunteer-and-career organization, has already experienced five CPR saves this year.

“In 2019, we started the quest towards becoming a HEARTSafe community. We have public access to AEDs in several locations now, we’re trying to work on others, we’re collecting the data, and we’re improving our response times along with our dispatching times, but just the mentality and the culture has changed,” JB Kimble said. “Until 2016 or so, the firemen here were not really interested in cardiac arrest and now we’re collecting data on our unresponsive calls, and we had four saves last year combined with other agencies and we’ve already had five this year.”

“It makes you think about the years that we didn’t go and how many lives we could have impacted, and I want to thank the mayor and council for allowing us to obtain that training and allow us to do that for our community,” the chief added.

Firefighter First Class Ethan Smith
Career firefighter Shane Jenkins
Career firefighter Maria Potter
Capt. Brian Elmore

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