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Firefighters save man from electrocution

EMS crew uses latest training to revive man

Gresham emergency medical services put their advanced training - as well as the latest life-saving techniques - to use in saving a man electrocuted by a 7,200-volt power line.

Firefighters responded at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, to a work site at 76 N.W. Bryn Mawr Way in Gresham, where a man had been electrocuted when the scaffolding he was handling came into contact with a power line.

Upon arriving, Rene Perez Ortiz was receiving cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from his colleagues.

'When we got there he was unconscious, not breathing and he didn't have a pulse,' said Byrne.

Just last month, Byrne and other emergency medical technicians (EMTs) took part in training on how to manage cardiac arrest.

'It was a great deal of very concentrated learning,' said Christofer Baird, training officer for Gresham Fire and Emergency Services. 'We've been given a lot of changes over the last two years; a lot of new procedures and medications have come out.'

In the three-hour training, they presented staff members with a series of life-like scenarios.

'Everything was as real as it could be,' Baird said. 'The only thing fake was the mannequin.'

There's more and more for firefighters and EMTs to learn. For example, chest compression ratio for patient resuscitation used to be 15 chest compressions and two air ventilations; now it is 30 and two. Medications change too; EMTs used to give epinephrine (adrenalin) to all adult cardiac arrest victims.

'Now the current science suggests a different medication, vasopressin,' Baird said. Vasopressin, he said, increases arterial blood pressure - critical to getting the heart beating again.

'It makes the body squeeze the blood back to the core, so that you move more blood to your heart, lungs and brain,' he said.

And a new device, Ezio, provides a faster way to inject medicines into the blood supply, rather than using a needle in a vein.

'Instead of putting a needle into a vein - which in a cardiac arrest can be difficult - what this does is allows you to use a small drill to put a needle into a (leg) bone,' said Baird. 'Which is not as bad as that sounds.'

It's a lot faster, he said.

And in February, the emergency medical team started using a new airway device: the KING airway.

'It provides a secure airway without interrupting CPR and is put in place very rapidly,' Baird said.

Gresham firefighters subsequently delivered a shock to Ortiz's heart, which converted it to a normal rhythm. Shortly after that, Ortiz had a pulse, blood pressure and was beginning to breathe on his own. He was then transported to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Legacy Emanuel Hospital to recover. At last report, Ortiz had been transferred from the ICU to a regular room for recovery.

'The firefighters along with the AMR crew did a superb job of resuscitating this patient,' said John Stouffer, EMS Coordinator. 'I believe the intensive training in cardiac arrest, along with the new tools we have pioneered, as well as the quality and capabilities of our firefighters, are beginning to pay off in terms of patient survival.'