Commander Willie Richards (far left) and Chief David Coatney (far right) with the recipients of the Phoenix Award for saving the life of a man in cardiac arrest: (from left) Officer Brian Young, Officer Michael Salinas, Officer Todd Spradlin, Lt. Brent Barton, Captain Johnnie Bohac, Driver Troy Hirsch, Driver Steve Crew and Firefighter Todd Sullivan.
On Aug. 19, the Fire Department honored three police officers and five firefighters with the Phoenix Award, an award given to public safety personnel directly responsible for saving a person’s life such that the person is able to have a full recovery.
“The name comes from the mythical bird that is reborn from its ashes,” says Fire Chief David Coatney. “On many calls, public safety personnel might be able to get a pulse on the scene. But the Phoenix Award recognizes those situations where the patient is able to walk out of the hospital fully functioning after a life threatening event.”
In April, police and fire got a call involving a cardiac arrest. Police Officers Michael Salinas, Todd Spradlin, and Brian Young reached the scene first and began CPR. Then Captain Johnnie Bohac, Lieutenant Brent Barton, Driver Troy Hirsch, Driver Steve Crew and Firefighter Todd Sullivan from the Fire Department arrived and established a “pit” crew for continuing CPR.
“A “pit crew” is a way of rotating the person doing the CPR compressions,” says Coatney. “With the new CPR standards calling for 100 compressions per minute, you get fatigued pretty quickly. Rotating the crew on a set cycle allows the CPR to continue as needed for much longer.”
Both police and fire personnel performed CPR until EMS arrived on the scene. The patient was able to make a complete recovery and walk out of the hospital.
“Response time is critical during a cardiac arrest,” says Coatney. “If you can’t get there in the 4 to 6 minute window to prevent brain death, the potential for a patient’s complete recovery is slim.”
The Phoenix Award honors personnel that truly saved a person’s life in the fullest sense, not just kept them alive.
“It’s a calling in public safety to save lives,” says Coatney. “That’s why most people in the field are here. They want to make a difference in someone’s life. There’s really no higher award you can receive than knowing you truly did make a difference to a patient and their family.