By Charlie Swearingen, BS, NREMTP, FPC
Eleven o’clock is known as the beginning of the third watch to some civil service providers such as police, fire, and EMS personnel. It can also be termed the ‘graveyard shift.’ The term graveyard indicates mortality and death, ironically, however, these dedicated civil service providers work to prevent that very end.
The law enforcement agencies work to protect the citizens from criminals and law breakers; the fire departments protect the citizens from fire, fire hazards, and the ramifications fires can bring; and emergency medical service (EMS) providers work to protect patients from injury and acute disease processes.
On one fateful night, after eleven o’clock, these three tiers of Copiah County’s civil service providers all worked together, as usual, to prevent a local grandmother from dying at home.
The household was probably calm before a family member realized that their grandmother was not as talkative as usual. After tapping her to illicit a response, the granddaughter realized something was very wrong. Her grandmother was not breathing. She immediately called 911, and after realizing her grandmother was without respiratory effort and a pulse, she began doing CPR.
The 911 dispatcher sent out a hail to the fire department, police department, and EMS. The police and fire departments arrived first. Officer Ronnie Murray played a pivotal role in establishing an open airway and delivering rescue breaths with a resuscitation mask while the fire department personnel provided outstanding chest compressions.
The rescue breathing was providing ambient oxygen into the patient’s lungs and the chest compressions were taking that oxygen via the blood to the rest of the body. The CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, was noticed to be executed perfectly by the arriving EMS crew.
Once the full team of civil service providers was at the patient’s side working together for a common goal: to help this sick stranger. The paramedic inserted a breathing tube while the EMT basic assisted with equipment needs and directed CPR. An IV line was established and medications administered, when suddenly, the patient began starting to breathe on her own. Her pupils were equal and normal sized, which means the rescue breathing kept delivering oxygen to the grandmother’s lungs and the compressions were helping the oxygen get to the brain telling the pupils to stay the normal size.
Shortly after the patient began breathing on her own, she began producing her own pulse, therefore CPR was stopped. The grandmother was packaged for a safe and quick transport to the hospital. She was later flown out of Copiah County via the critical care helicopter, AirCare, which is out of the University of Mississippi Health Care.
This wife, sister, mother, and grandmother had become acutely ill. If it was not for the rapid reactions of her family members to call 911, the Officer Ronnie Murray for executing impeccable rescue breaths, the fire department for employing excellent chest compressions and for EMS providing the advanced life support, this loved one would not have survived through the transport.
The graveyard shift would suggest ghosts, but rather angels. On this particular third watch, it was through the hands of angels that helped to prolong this grandmother’s life until she got to definitive care. It is an honor to work beside the men and women who comprise the civil service provider of Copiah County. You truly are angels.
City officials in attendance during Friday’s event to honor these emergency personnel included Aldermen Ron Sims, Frank Jones, and Daryl McMillan; Mayor Henry Banks, Police Chief Byron Swilley, city court judges Jeff Varas and Dudley Lampton, city attorneys Olen Bryant and Tim Rutland.
Those involved were EMS personnel Charlie Swearingen and Pam Erwin; Fire Department personnel Chief Gabriel Harvey, Tarrell Davis, Christopher Washington, Larry Valliere, Cody Shoemaker, Anthony Harris; and police officers Ronnie Murray, Bonnie Ross, and Michael Fatheree.