The Pleasant Twp. Fire and EMS Department purchased a $31,000 cardiac monitor thanks in part to a $10,000 donation from a man whose life they saved in 2011 in a difficult wooded rescue.
Indianapolis resident Edwin “Ned” Kirby, then 73, was blazing trails with a tractor in a 52-acre wooded area on his Champaign County farm in June 2011 when a tree fell on him, causing severe injuries. Kirby later donated the money to the department.
Township trustees earlier this month approved the purchase of a LifePak 15 to replace its 14-year-old LifePak 12.
Assistant EMS Chief Ben French said the monitor performs several functions and is used on every squad run to measure the most basic vitals and to help diagnose heart problems.
“It can help diagnose heart attacks and help with our transport decision getting them to a proper place where they need to be if they were having a heart attack,” French said.
It can digitally transmit patient information to the doctor and potentially help the doctor decide to bypass a heart attack victim’s emergency room stop, sending them straight to the cath lab for surgery, French said.
“It’s an investment in the future because it’ll be good for 15 years, probably,” French said.
“We’ve had the (LifePak 12) in service since 1999. We had to replace it because it’s becoming obsolete. They’re not going to be making parts, they’re not going to be servicing them any more,” he said.
The older model would have been replaced with or without the donation.
The tree came down on Kirby when he raised the front-loader of the tractor in the air to knock down a branch attached to it, he said.
“I thought I could do what I’d done a hundred times, and that’s use the front end loader, put it up in the air and snap the limb right off,” Kirby said. “All I was wanting to get off was the limb, but I brought the whole thing down on top of me.”
He called it a “day of miracles.”
“The entire group of Catawba EMS fire department were that day … at the middle school ball diamonds in the village of Catawba … practicing how to load an accident victim onto a helicopter,” Kirby said. “And what did they have there? A live helicopter with a motor running, two nurses and 16 people practicing how to get a turkey like me onto the helicopter, and they were only four minutes away.”
He sustained a broken left arm and clavicle and a broken sternum, which made it difficult to get to and dial 9-1-1 on his cell phone with his right hand without dropping it. He’s left-handed.
And there are parts of the woods where he doesn’t have cell phone service, he said. But where the tree fell, he did.
To find him in what he described as an extremely thick woods, rescuers listened for the sound of the tractor engine that Kirby revved to alert them of his location.
That same rescue earned the department and a pilot and nurses with CareFlight a 2012 Star of Life Award — the highest for an emergency medical service in the state.
It’s awarded annually to the top department in eight Ohio districts by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“They had to cut through some barbed brush and some foliage to get to the tractor, and then, since he was still on the tractor, to get him off was a challenge because of the injuries he had to be able to stabilize him and move him at the same time,” Frank Giampetro said.
Giampetro, who said he’s trained 10,000 people in 36 counties over the last five years, nominated the department for the award.
“And then to get him from the tractor to the ambulance was another problem that they had to deal with,” Giampetro said.
Rescuers were afraid they’d get an ambulance stuck, so they drove him out of the woods in the bed of a pickup truck as medics performed resuscitation.
“I look at what they did and it was a remarkable extrication and a remarkable job both physically and medically that they did for the patient,” Giampetro said.
“Everything was lined up in his favor. Everything worked from the initial call for help throughout the whole hospital stay, through rehab, to getting him back to his quality of life that he knew before the accident,” French said.
Staff Writer Mark McGregor always keeps his eyes out and ears open for good news stories from across the county.