published Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Tri-state first responders recognized

STAR OF LIFE

Bradley County Emergency Medical Service has won Tennessee's EMS Star of Life Award for 2013 for helping to save David Simonds after he suffered a cardiac arrest. The award recognizes pre-hospital agencies and personnel who administer "exemplary life-saving care to adult and pediatric patients."

Recipients are chosen from each of the eight EMS regions in the state. Bradley County EMS represents Region 3.The awards presentation will take place May 23 in Nashville.

David Simonds thought a few splashes of water on his face would help him snap out of it.

Simonds, 26, felt lousy for a few days last January. But he still showed up for work at the Rubbermaid plant in Cleveland, Tenn., that Monday.

He told his co-workers he was going to the men's room and would be right back. But when he didn't show up, some co-workers decided to go check on him.

That's where they found him sprawled on the floor -- dead. No breathing. No pulse. Blue skin.

Two workers, John Montgomery and Jim Floyd, started CPR and rushed to use the facility's automated external defibrillator in attempts to revive him.

When the Bradley County EMTs and paramedics showed up just three minutes later, they took over efforts to save Simonds.

He was defibrillated five times before a rhythm showed up on the heart monitor. By the time he arrived at SkyRidge Medical Center, his pulse was inconsistent -- but it was there.

"Long story short, he made a full recovery. You kind of just have to say it was a miracle," said Bradley County public information officer Stan Clark, who called the event "one of the most historical and miraculous stories of survival that we have seen."

The story of Simonds' rescue from just beyond the brink of death was one of several recounted Friday morning at a communitywide EMS recognition event at Erlanger's LifeForce hangar, honoring first responders from throughout the region for their life-saving efforts.

The event kicks off National Emergency Medical Services Week.

There's a "critical window" -- sometimes just seconds -- in which a patient's final outcome is dependent on how quickly pre-hospital medical help is given, said trauma and critical care surgeon Dr. Robert Maxwell.

"Our EMS personnel are there when the clock starts ticking," he said.

Several speeches at the event were interrupted by the drone of helicopter blades, as one air medical crew landed with a patient, whom they promptly wheeled into the hospital.

State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, talked about the importance of AEDs. He used one to save a man's life and has sponsored legislation to expand their use in commercial and public buildings.

"Technology is now allowing us to save more people in the field," he said. "But it does not replace the person operating that AED or hanging that bag or putting in that IV."

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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