Emergency medical personnel honored

Grand Junction High School sophomore Hannah Trackler is recognized by Principal Jon Bilbo for her volunteer service with emergency responders last spring during a luncheon Wednesday at St. Mary’s Hospital marking National Emergency Medical Services Week.

Standing 12 stories above the Grand Valley, on St. Mary’s Hospital’s CareFlight helipad Wednesday morning, Hannah Trackler recalled the day she helped save a life.

Trackler, a 15-year-old sophomore at Grand Junction High School, was volunteering last spring at a local fire station as part of her community-service project.

When an emergency call came in for help for someone in cardiac arrest, Trackler rode in the ambulance and assisted the emergency medical technicians, who gave the victim cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

According to responders, recent advances in CPR techniques and the quick response of emergency personnel saved the man’s life that day. The experience also changed the course of Trackler’s life.

“It really just opened my eyes, and now I want to be an ER nurse because I love helping people,” Trackler said.

She was an honored guest Wednesday at a rooftop luncheon that recognized the more than 250 emergency responders in Mesa County as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week.

The luncheon was co-hosted for the fourth year by St. Mary’s and Community hospitals

“These men and women are out there saving our lives, putting themselves at risk, and many of them volunteer their time to save people. It’s the least we could do,” said Vee Edstrom, emergency department director for Community Hospital. “You just don’t hear a lot about them. One week out of the year is just not enough to thank them.”

Trackler was one of 90 people — including dispatchers, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department officers, emergency-medical technicians, paramedics and average citizens — who received a Phoenix award at the event for their CPR efforts, which records show saved 14 people in Mesa County last year.

That is a huge number of lives saved and a cause for tremendous celebration this year, said Mike Hill, Mesa County EMS coordinator.

Hill said saving 14 people was a 50 percent increase over the number of lives saved in 2008, an increase he attributed to the advances in CPR techniques used by emergency responders.

Mesa County emergency responders use the new CPR guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association, which suggest giving more rapid chest compressions and ventilating the patient less often. Responders are also taught to perform two minutes of standard CPR techniques before using the defibrillator on patients.

These new techniques, Hill said, were developed based on the findings of the Ontario Prehospital Advanced Life Support Study, which evaluated the impact of prehospital efforts to save the lives of those in cardiac or respiratory arrest. It studied 18,000 cases in 17 worldwide cities and found those who received longer sustained chest compressions were more likely to live than those previously given standard CPR techniques.

“It’s important to recognize what our emergency providers are doing, especially when it comes to cardiac arrest,” Hill said.


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