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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Temple Hills House Fire Suspicious with Death Investigation

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Firefighters responding to a Temple Hills house fire this evening were cautioned by dispatchers that they were also receiving reports of "shots fired" and a possible domestic.  As firefighters approached the reported scene location in the 5300 block of Lorraine Drive in Temple Hills a large column of smoke could be seen, however, firefighters had to stand-by a block away until County Police advised the scene was clear.

After just a few minutes of standing-by, firefighters were provided an all-clear and arrived to find a 2-story single family home with fire showing.  The fire was spreading rapidly and possible multiple points of origin were being reported by interior firefighting crews.  Incident Commanders requested a "fire task force" bringing additional personnel and equipment to the scene.

While battling the fire a victim suffering from a gun shot wound was located.  The exact location or other information about the deceased is not being provided as this incident is an open and on-going criminal investigation.  The victim was pronounced deceased on the scene.  County Police will provide updated information about this incident when information is available.

It required about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.  No other injuries were reported.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Fire/EMS Department Office of the Fire Marshal, however, the cause appears to be suspicious.  The County Police will conduct an investigation into the other matters involving this incident.

Friday, May 25, 2012

GAZETTE NEWSPAPER -Work is never predictable for fire/EMS personnel

Daniel J. Gross/The Gazette 
Firefighter/paramedic Kelli Cooke (left), 31, of District Heights Station 826 removes a medical emergency box from the medic unit ambulance Wednesday after receiving a call for a woman suffering from chest pains in District Heights.
Daniel J. Gross/The Gazette 
Firefighter/paramedic Kelli Cooke (left), 31, of District Heights Station 826 removes a medical emergency box from the medic unit ambulance Wednesday after receiving a call for a woman suffering from chest pains in District Heights.

Things are rarely predictable for Prince George’s County paramedics. One minute they may be in the middle of training, That was the case Wednesday morning for Dave Snyder and Kelli Cooke, two firefighter/paramedics of District Heights Station 826, who say the ever-changing duties were the reason for joining the county’s fire/EMS department the next minute they’re jumping into an ambulance for an emergency.Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department officials are using National EMS Week — May 20 through 26 — to highlight the hard work and dedication of emergency responders to show that “it’s not just a job; it’s a calling,” said Mark Brady, chief spokesman for the department.
First declared by President Gerald Ford in 1974, National EMS Week was established to promote safety and honor the dedication of those who provide day-to-day lifesaving services.
On Wednesday, Snyder and Cooke had just started a training session when they received a call for a resident suffering from chest pains.
“That’s us,” said Cooke, 31, of Brandywine, while leaving the exercise and heading to the scene.
Although Snyder and Cooke were on paramedic duties during their Wednesday shift, they double as firefighters as well and switch between roles depending on the day’s staffing or call volume. The two said they typically respond to about 10 to 15 calls during a 24-hour shift, which is done once every four days.
So far this year, the District Heights station has responded to more than 4,000 fire and EMS calls, adding to the roughly 130,000 calls the county responds to throughout each year. Brady said based on population, the county’s fire/EMS department has a slightly higher call volume than others.
Brady said about 80 percent of the county’s calls are for emergency medical service.
In the call during training Wednesday, the patient’s chest pains were caused by bronchitis, the paramedics said before returning to the station to continue their exercise — only to be called out again.
The 11 a.m. call was to Forestville for the report of an unconscious person. The paramedics arrived to find a man lying on the side of a road unresponsive. Paramedics placed him on a stretcher and loaded him into the station’s medic unit. As the man regained consciousness, Snyder checked his vitals and asked him questions to check his coherence.
“Do you know where we’re going? Do you know where you were before?” he said to the man, who could not answer either question.
Snyder, 30, who commutes to District Heights from Allentown, Pa., said they have previously transported the man, who has been tested for seizures.
Between responding to calls, Snyder, Cooke and the crew of 28 firefighter/paramedics that staff the station spend time maintaining the apparatus, cleaning the station and staying up-to-date with training.
Snyder said he has been with the county’s fire/EMS department for six years and said he decided to become a firefighter and paramedic because several of his family members are also firefighters and said he wanted to do something different every day.
He said he chose the Prince George’s department after serving in the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs.
Like Snyder, Cooke also has family in the fire/EMS service and wanted a career that brought a new pace each day.
“There’s never a boring day. We’re not sitting behind a desk,” she said. “There’s never anything that’s the same.”
Lt. Mike Glaubitz of the District Heights station said paramedics are responsible for handling a high number of calls each day while maintaining their knowledge of the field.
“The EMS call volume is so high here that it takes some of the best skilled people to put up with that call volume and maintain the skills and provide the service,” he said. “It’s definitely unique.”
Sometimes a small sign of appreciation from someone who has been treated for a medical emergency can be the reason to come to work, Snyder said.
“Even calls that are considered to be somewhat simple, just for them to say, ‘Thank you,’ that’s good to hear,” he said.
Cooke said the work feels rewarding when treating someone with a medical emergency on the way to the hospital and seeing them recover.
“It’s neat to see something all the way through, to see that we actually made a difference in the patient’s recovery,” she said.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

EMS WEEK Statement from County Executive Rushern L. Baker

Press Release
For Immediate Release:
May 24, 2012

For Information Contact:
Scott L. Peterson
Deputy Manager of Communications/Press Secretary
(240) 619-9400

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III Statement
National EMS Week

“This morning I ran with the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS department across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Along with getting some great exercise and enjoying a beautiful view of the Potomac, I was personally humbled to be in the presence of such brave men and women who unselfishly put their lives on the line and sacrifice everyday to save the lives of others. 

The men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS department, both volunteer and career, are superheroes in our community.  They swoop in quickly and do everything in their power to save our citizens from danger, pain, or even death. 

During this National EMS Week, I salute the courageous people who respond to emergency situations and protect us from harm’s way.  I pray every day for your safety and for you to return home to your family and friends after every shift and every watch.”

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sentinel Newspaper - On call: 17 hours with Medic 830

On call: 17 hours with Medic 830

Sentinel reporter Dana Amihere and photographer Jim Davis ride along with Prince George's County paramedics

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Photo by Jim Davis. Paramedic trainee Charles Lisko assists a patient Saturday night.
Photo by Jim Davis. Paramedic trainee Charles Lisko assists a patient Saturday night.
Published on: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
By Dana Amihere
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department responds to about 130,000 incidents each year. Nearly 80 percent of these responses are EMS related.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
Those are words most people hope they never have to hear. Most people never know what is happening on the other end of the call. But for EMS week May 20-26 stations across the county opened their doors to the media to find out.
What really happens after you make that call for help?
At Station 30 in Landover Hills, the paramedics of Medic 830 spring to action. As the dispatcher’s voice comes over the intercom and sirens blare, the printer screeches out the call sheet with the details of the emergency. In a matter of minutes, the truck is on the road.
“The alarm can go off anytime, so you’re always on edge. It’s the unknown. You have no clue what’s waiting for you so you have to be prepared mentally,” 13-year veteran Ed Aldaco said.
On a quiet Saturday night, only one other call has come in, which for career paramedic Arbrey Butler is a blessing for people he serves.
“When you start out (on this job) you’re all gung-ho,” Butler said. “The longer you do this, though, you hope that red phone never rings because it means someone’s having a bad day.”
On the job for 19 years, Butler said he has seen things people wouldn’t believe. One day, a minivan flipped and rolled across the roadway in front of the ambulance only blocks from the station. While the woman driving survived the accident, many people on calls that Butler has responded to haven’t been as lucky.
One of the most jarring calls he responded to was for a mother and her infant child shot by the father. The woman had taken out a restraining order less than 24 hours prior to her murder. The man, who was apprehended while out eating dinner after he had killed his family, left a photo of the trio in the baby’s crib. They had been dead awhile, Butler said, and there was nothing that could be done for them.
But, Butler said he is “being used by God” to bring people back from the brink of death in some cases.
“I’ve watched a patient’s vital signs come back from nothing. Being able to perform a medical intervention and reverse that process is a good feeling,” he said.
Calls are much more benign on this quiet Saturday night, such as treating a 20-year-old’s asthma attack and an elderly woman’s debility. At times, calls can be too straightforward, said Butler, such as a 25-year-old with a headache and a grown man with an office staple shallowly buried in his finger — easily plucked out and treated with a Band-Aid.
“It’s not that I don’t want to help somebody, but there are people out there with more serious problems (who need us),” Butler said.
While a person’s problem may be “their emergency,” Butler says paramedics are for “cases of life and death.”
But then there are patients who underestimate the severity of their injuries. Tiffany Brookings, who spent the first half of her career as a volunteer firefighter, had a man complaining of chest pain after he had returned from the bar. His mother called 911 — he had been stabbed in the abdomen.
In his six months at Station 30, trainee paramedic Charles Lisko says he is starting to understand what it means to interact with the community.
“We see the same call a lot, but it’s never the same,” he said.
“You can’t assume anything on calls,” Brookings explained. “Things may be totally different on scene. You have to be prepared to act (on anything).”
But a love for the job keeps medics coming back every day, said Brookings, who has used only five sick days in seven years.
The ever-present voice of the dispatcher on the PA makes for a night of restless sleep, at least for a ride-along newbie. For the seasoned night crew, however, the garbled sounds have become white noise, even outside that station, said Butler. The hum of the printer also sticks with you wherever you go, joked Aldaco, laughing as he describes how he panicked when he heard the printer spitting out his receipt at a fast food restaurant.
“We run into burning buildings, shootings, accidents when most people run the other way. You have to be a little off to do this (job),” Aldaco said.
As daylight breaks and night fades, calls come in at a steadier pace. An accident on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway ends in two fatalities. A hyperglycemic woman needs treatment at a Hyattsville nursing home. A 53-year-old man complains of chest pain in Landover. Lunch is interrupted by a 19-year-old seizing in a Dodge Park parking lot as the dispatcher calls for a medic unit over the radio.