EMT recognized for life-saving effort in Penn Hills
Nick Gerstel had just finished Christmas dinner at his father's Penn Hills home when the radio his dad uses as a volunteer firefighter sounded.
“We heard the call go out,” said Gerstel, 29, a firefighter and EMT in South Strabane. A 62-year-old man in the neighborhood had collapsed after going into cardiac arrest.
The Rosedale Volunteer Fire Department, where his father, Jeff Gerstel, is assistant chief, dispatched a response unit. It was six blocks away.
Nick Gerstel started running. He was only two streets from the home of Roland “Mike” Dulaney and aided in administering CPR. He also called the fire station to say the patient needed an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED.
Meanwhile, neighbor Andrea Huzinec, who is a nurse, went to Dulaney's home and performed CPR until firefighters arrived.
With that and the AED, Dulaney's heart soon was beating and he was breathing on his own.
“Having them there with the AED was key,” the younger Gerstel said.
He and others who aided in saving Dulaney were recognized Sunday by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, headquartered in Wexford.
More than 350,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year and nine out of 10 them die, the foundation said.
Sandy Dulaney knows her husband could have been one of the victims.
“When the ambulance took him to the hospital ... the doctors all said he was very fortunate,” she said. “We're well aware of that.”
The ceremony at the Rosedale Fire Department brought together the two men who met only briefly after Dulaney was released from the hospital.
“It's very rewarding,” Gerstel said. “We've been sent to other cardiac arrests and never had one turn out as positive as this.”
“The average survival rate of cardiac arrests is 10 percent,” said Mary Newman, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. “But when people get treated quickly, it's closer to 40 percent.”
The foundation works to raise awareness about prevention and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest and to support programs that give ordinary people the power to save a life.
The AEDs, once relegated to use by firefighters and rescue crews, now are routinely placed in churches, schools and businesses. They cost between $1,500 and $2,500.
“These devices can be used by anyone, and they make a difference between life and death,” Newman said.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.