Winnemucca Police Department (WPD) and Humboldt General Hospital Emergency Medical Services (HGH EMS) have a partnership. In addition to the CPR training and re-certification that WPD officers have always done yearly, some officers have received paramedic training.
HGH EMS works with both WPD officers and Winnemucca City Fire Department volunteers to train them in CPR, use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and first aid. Often, police officers or firemen arrive before emergency medical services are called — and their quick action can mean the difference between life or death in a medical emergency.
Thursday, Nov. 16, HGH EMS Chief Sean Burke and Lieutenant Debbie Whittaker, who heads the AED program for HGH EMS, came to the police department to recognize four WPD officers for quick-response actions that helped save the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest August 5, 2017, at a local store.
A bystander had immediately started performing CPR on the man and was doing so when Officers Sal Ochoa and Jimmi Santos, riding together, arrived at the scene. Officer Ochoa took action with the AED and, after a shock was advised, administered two shocks to the patient.
WPD Reserve Officer Brant Manley, who was also on scene, instructed Santos to begin chest compressions, while Officer Ochoa administered oxygen to the patient. When HGH EMS arrived on scene, they took over CPR. During that process, Officer Manley noticed that the patient had regained heart rhythm and notified EMS personnel to discontinue CPR.
The man was then transported to HGH and later flown to Reno by HGH's Air One medical helicopter for further treatment. Officer Manly, a seasoned paramedic, told Sergeant Lynn, who was the officers' supervisor on duty, that he believed quick response with CPR and implementation of the AED were instrumental in saving the man's life.
Whittaker emphasized how important first responders like the WPD officers are to quick-response lifesaving efforts that have to happen as soon as possible in the case of cardiac arrest and other life-and-death medical situations. Whittaker is in charge locally of the PAD (Public Access to Defibrillation) program, also called Project Heart Share.
EMS Chief Sean Burke explained that every month he reports statistics to the hospital board that show how EMS is doing in different areas. He said one area the board is interested in is the success of responses to cardiac arrest calls.
Winnemucca is far ahead of the national average in success with reviving people with CPR, who have had a cardiac arrest. The national average, Burke said, is around seven or eight percent. In Winnemucca, the average has been well over 20 percent. Burke said that happens because of the quick response of law enforcement partners.
“In the five minutes before EMS shows up, it can be too late.” Burke told the officers. “The ability to have you on the scene, quickly, responding with lifesaving measures, makes that kind of difference — doubling the national average.
“This was a stone cold save,” Burke concluded with a huge smile. “That guy called me three days later from Renown and wanted to know where his cowboy hat was.”
“You are making a difference,” Whittaker told Officers Sal Ochoa, and Jimmi Santos. “On behalf of the families, the hospital and our EMS teams, we appreciate you, we thank you and we couldn't do it without you,”
Chief Dalley said he was very pleased with the partnership between the WPD and HGH EMS. To his officers, he said, “On behalf of the WPD, I commend each of you for your dedicated work with the police department and to your community. Thank you for your dedication and training.”
Although Model T employees Jeff Casalez and Dan Shea were not able to be at the WPD, they were also given lifesaver awards for their quick action that saved the life of a woman at the restaurant.