MCFRS News Release

Your Life is Our Mission

Local man given the gift of life

A Public Access Defibrillator (Automatic External Defibrillator) was utilized by several bystanders on Sunday, December 14, 2008 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School, in Bethesda.  Around 4:10 PM units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for a man that had collapsed from a possible heart attack at the BCC High School gymnasium located at 4301 East-West Highway. 

A 50 year old man was playing a pick up game of basketball with about a dozen others when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.  Bystanders called 911 and fire and rescue dispatchers provided pre-arrival instructions to the caller.  Other bystanders began CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), including operating the on-site Automatic External Defibrillator or AED. 

One shock was delivered while on the phone with the fire dispatcher at the Emergency Communications Center.  First responders and paramedics from Chevy Chase, Bethesda and the Bethesda Chevy-Chase Rescue Squad arrived and continued CPR.  After about a minute the patient was reassessed and found to have a pulse.  The crews continued to ventilate and initiated advanced life support.  Shortly thereafter the victim began to breath on his own, although was now becoming agitated.  The patient was transported to Suburban and remains an inpatient in critical, but stable condition.

Montgomery County, Maryland fire fighters, paramedics and emergency medical first responders are called to assist on over 100,000 incidents each year.  About one million fire and rescue personnel responded on emergency apparatus about 300,000 times during the past year.  Almost 80 percent of all responses are medical emergencies or other rescue type incidents. 

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is a full spectrum life safety agency protecting nearly 1 million people who live and work in Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction.  The MCFRS is a combination system (career/volunteer), operating with an annual budget of about $190 million and is comprised of over 1,200 career uniformed personnel and professional civilian staff, over 1,000 of whom are emergency responders and an equal number of volunteers, nearly half of whom actively participate in emergency response.

"The dedicated men and women who serve as EMS providers in Montgomery County are often first on the scene of local medical emergencies, motor vehicle crashes,  disasters of all shapes and sizes or other event that may place them in a hazardous environment, “ says Chief Richard Bowers , Interim Fire Chief, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

 “As the statement ‘Your Life is Our Mission’ implies, it is the purpose of our emergency first responders who are the very essence for the beginning of emergency health care in our communities while performing an extraordinary service”.   Chief Bowers adds, "It’s important to recognize that many times bystanders are now able to complete the chain of survival and help save lives, as well."

Montgomery County was a recent recipient of the national Heart Safe Community Award. The Heart Safe Community Award reflects the American Heart Association Guidelines for the ‘Chain of Survival’ and among other things the award historically considers public access programs established by fire and EMS agencies in their communities.  Currently there are over 1,000 public automatic external defibrillators (AED) registered within Montgomery County – the most of any jurisdiction in the region and State of Maryland.

Montgomery County has demonstrated an improved quality of out-of-hospital resuscitation through bystander CPR, AED deployment via public access, pre-arrival advanced care and other continuous quality resuscitation improvements.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers wants to especially acknowledge all the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, bystanders and medical professionals who have been involved in several Public Access Defibrillation saves since a law was enacted in Montgomery County, Maryland requiring automatic external defibrillators (AED) in all health clubs, recreation centers and high school gymnasiums.Many individuals have been involved in activating what the American Heart Association calls the “Chain of Survival” for Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  The “Chain of Survival” involves a bystander (initial recognition of a cardiac arrest), someone who summons help (calls 911), a Emergency Medical Dispatcher (sends fire and rescue medical assistance quickly), persons who perform CPR and utilize an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), the fire and EMS crews who arrive and continue the care, paramedics who initiate Advanced Life Support procedures, and those who transport the patients to the hospital.  This is a “Chain of Survival”.