By Jeff Gallatin
City safety officials recently added more players to the roster of the team of North Olmsted employees able to administer CPR in an emergency situation.
Safety/Service Director Scott Thomas said April 27 workers in the service department recently completed their CPR training, joining a wide range of North Olmsted city and school employees trained in the safety technique.
“They’re pretty excited about being able to do this,” Thomas said. “They’re out there in the city with a lot of people, and this gives them training in an important area which could benefit someone on short notice.”
Mayor Kevin Kennedy said he’s pleased to have additional workers trained in CPR.
“It’s something which benefits us as a city,” he said. “Our firefighters are trained in it, but they often aren’t the first people who can get to someone in need. This could make a difference in saving someone’s life.”
North Olmsted Fire Department Lt. Ken Hehnen, who commands the fire department’s EMS and related training, said that with the new service department workers joining the fold, the safety capability of government workers has increased significantly.
“There are more than 150 city and school employees trained in this now in North Olmsted,” Hehnen said. “That’s something that many cities can’t say.”
Hehnen cited one recent example of a situation where nonfirefighter/ paramedic people administering CPR were able to effectively save a life.
Hehnen said a 27-year-old woman who was apparently having a drug overdose was in her vehicle outside Westfield Great Northern Mall. Hehnen noted that many North Olmsted police and fire dispatchers, police officers and Great Northern Mall security officers have been trained in CPR.
“This (incident) had workers from several agencies involved in it,” he said. “After they got 911, dispatcher Tammy Farris, who’s trained in CPR, was able to work with the police officer responding to the scene (Patrolman Jack Justice) and make sure it was done properly and maintain the patient,” he said. “Mall security arrived and they also have people trained who were also able to help keep her alive.”
When city firefighters arrived, they took over and took the woman to the hospital, where medical workers were able to stabilize the woman.
“She was able to walk out of the hospital after being successfully treated,” Hehnen said. “This shows how important it can be to have non-firefighters and paramedics trained to do this.”
Farris said it shows how well the safety system works in North Olmsted.
“I was able to work with the police officer and it also shows a benefit of having the central dispatch where the North Olmsted police and fire dispatch system are together. We saved time by my being able to work and communicate with both departments.”
Hehnen said the strong working relationship the city fire department has with St. John Medical Center and Fairview Hospital also plays a role in the training and making sure people are adequately prepared.
“They work very hard at making sure the firefighters and the people who are trained are ready to deal with the situation,” he said.
Hehnen said the training has been given to some citizens groups when they requested it, but added that eventually it would be nice to set up some training that the general public can sign up for.
Kennedy said the city will continue to further the training efforts.
“We’re going to have City Hall employees trained next,” he said. “I’d certainly support additional training where we can.”