by Samantha Hilker
Gold Cross Ambulance Service, Inc., a longstanding member of PAAW, is doing some great things in their corner of the world, so we’re shining the spotlight on them!
The team at Gold Cross is taking community involvement and public outreach to heart, and it is making a difference for the community as well as the EMTs and paramedics on staff.
“Gold Cross Ambulance believes that to be truly involved in pre-hospital healthcare you must educate the public to help improve patient outcomes. At Gold Cross, there are many areas of public education and community outreach that help engage and educate our community. We partner with the local healthcare systems, Ascension, and ThedaCare, to help provide many of these educations. Our public education and community outreach initiatives include our HeartStart Foundation public AED placement, PulsePoint, Stop the Bleed training, Hands-Only CPR education, and participation in Stroke education. We hope that with education and engagement we create a healthier community” explains Nick Romenesko, Clinical & Quality Manager for Gold Cross.
Gold Cross’ flagship event for the last several years has been the CPR at the Park Night, a collaborative event planned by representatives of Gold Cross, Ascension, American Heart Association, ThedaCare and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The event starts with free HOCPR, and AED awareness demos and participants are encouraged to download the PulsePoint Respond app. In June of 2017 Gold Cross launched the Pulse Point Respond app through their dispatch center. The app alerts CPR trained citizens to a cardiac arrest in a public location and tells them the location of the nearest public access AED, so they may respond, initiate CPR, and apply the AED when they are within 0.25 miles of that patient’s location. The Timber Rattlers include in-game messaging about cardiovascular disease, healthy choices, symptoms of acute coronary syndrome, and several survivors take to the field along with their family, bystander rescuers, pre-hospital and in-hospital care teams to highlight the import role each of them plays in the chain of survival.
The main goal of the CPR at the Park event was to educate the public on the importance of bystander action in the chain of survival through highlighting survivors and their rescuers willing to share their stories. This event also provides an opportunity for survivors and their families to reconnect with the responding EMTs and paramedics – an opportunity that makes a difference in the lives of those responders.
"It is incredibly humbling to know that I was part of a team that contributed so profoundly to the positive outcome another person's most perilous moment. Meeting someone, and their family members, face to face after having witnessed them so close to death was extremely inspiring. So far in my career, this success has been the ultimate expression of why we do what we do in EMS. In particular, it was amazing to have the opportunity to meet our young patient's father. He was present during a portion of the resuscitation attempt, and I remember feeling guilty that in the midst of the resuscitation efforts I couldn't give him more detailed information about what was happening to his daughter. I recall that as we left the scene, the only thing I was able to tell him was "she has a pulse again." So, to later shake that man's hand and see him standing alongside his healthy and happy young daughter was something I will remember for the rest of my career" shared John Drees, paramedic with Gold Cross.
I had the privilege of speaking with Don, one of the cardiac arrest survivors that participated in the 2017 CPR at the Park game. Don ran one of the local 5k’s in May 2017; after completing the race, he didn’t feel well and found a shady place to rest near the finish line. A few friends and medical volunteers recognized the warning signs and flagged down the paramedics from the staged ambulance for further evaluation and treatment. Don was having a STEMI, went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance, was resuscitated and transported to a local hospital for definitive treatment. Don ran the same 5k this year, on the one-year anniversary of his arrest. Gold Cross arranged for the treating crew and the bike team to support Don through the 5k and meet him at the finish line. Don shared what it meant for his heroes, as he calls them, to be there to support him:
“I am so very thankful for those who helped not only me but all the others who need the emergency help. The people were very professional and friendly. I enjoyed talking to them after the Sole Burner Run. I appreciated the gal who joined in with me up the Hill of Hope! It gave me a boost! You certainly have a great team! I know that many times there are people who are not as lucky as I am. It must be hard on one’s mind to go through that. My father passed away from heart disease when he was only 50. I never knew his parents, my grandparents, because of the same. I thank God and your team at Gold Cross Ambulance.”
Gold Cross has a busy summer ahead of them with public education and outreach events to include hands-only CPR, AED and Stop the Bleed. They are also in the process of rolling out PulsePoint Verified Responder; they will be joining five other agencies in the country in alerting their off-duty EMTs and paramedics to a cardiac arrest in private residences, so they can respond and administer CPR. This program is completely voluntary for employees and is in addition to the existing PulsePoint Respond app. They will be sharing more about their community outreach program, and PulsePoint, at the Paramedic Systems of Wisconsin conference this September.