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Published on October 03, 2019

Cardiac Run of the Year Awarded to KenCom Dispatch, Little Rock-Fox Fire District

Cardiac Run of the YearOn July 30, 2018, 63-year-old Debbie Solecki was not feeling well.  She was alone at work and her side and back ached. At first, she thought she might have kidney problems. She drove herself home, took some aspirin with water and went to lie down. Her family called 911 – and that was the start of what would become the Cardiac Run of the Year.

Announced by Rush Copley’s EMS Education and Recognition Committee, the Cardiac Run of the Year was awarded to KenCom Dispatch and the Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District for their efforts in saving Mrs. Solecki. “Due to the outstanding procedures, updates to fire/EMS by dispatch, low scene time, documentation, appropriate medications given, follow-up charting of medications, supplies and equipment used, in conjunction with 911 dispatch updates from KenCom, the assistance to this patient was outstanding,” said Jack Taxis, BSN, RN, CEN, TNS, PHRN, and EMS coordinator at Rush Copley. “This shows great team and interdepartmental workings.”

The 911 call was received by the late Alexandra Geltz and dispatched by Neely Zuhn, both of KenCom Public Safety Dispatch. Responding to the scene were members of Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District. Deputy Chief Chris Atkinson, an EMT/firefighter and neighbor of the victim, was first to arrive, soon followed by EMT Josh Hadden and paramedics Bradley Sherwood, Ryan Cihak, Jared Schimandle and Jose Lopez-Pacheco.

When the responders arrived, Mrs. Solecki was having an ST elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, a very serious type of heart attack, explained Carmen Kaufman, PA-C with Rush Copley Cardiovascular. Kaufman said the heart attack was complicated by an electrical rhythm problem which was causing the patient’s heart to beat slowly.  Mrs. Solecki was given aspirin – and told to chew them – as well as IV fluids and medication to increase her heart rate and then transported to Rush Copley’s catheterization laboratory. A cardiac cath lab is an examination room with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the arteries and chambers of the heart and treat any abnormality found. Although there are hospitals closer to the patient’s Plano home, they do not have cath labs – and Taxis said the responders made the “right choice” by transporting her 20 minutes to Rush Copley.

At the hospital, a cardiac catheterization showed the patient had a 100% blockage in the artery on the right side of her heart and another 80% blockage in the same artery, Kaufman said. Mrs. Solecki’s cardiologist, Dr. Li Schien Low, removed the clot in her artery and opened the two blockages by performing angioplasty and inserting two stents in her right coronary artery. Because of Mrs. Solecki’s rhythm problems, a temporary pacemaker was inserted in her heart – she didn’t require a permanent pacemaker because the rhythm problems resolved once the blocked artery was opened. 

The patient was sent home just a few days later with no heart damage.

The Run of the Year winners are chosen from the four winners of the Run of the Quarter Award. To be considered for Run of the Quarter, first responders must meet certain requirements. Upon arriving at the scene, they have five minutes to do the first EKG, then must transmit the EKG to Rush Copley. They should be on the scene for no more than 10 minutes unless they documented a reason for a delay. They must give appropriate medical treatment to the patient and have excellent documentation on their EMS report. “That’s a lot to do in 10 minutes or less,” Taxis said.

The decision in choosing this year’s winner came down to documentation, Taxis said. “The documentation on this chart is outstanding and easy to follow,” he praised. “It’s a stellar report. This run shows great care given and documentation of the events that took place that day from the start of the call to the finish.

“And it all started with dispatch,” he added, recognizing the two dispatchers for their actions in correctly directing the call. Dispatch also has time constraints – their goal is to collect information from the caller and dispatch the call to EMS within 60 seconds of receiving the call.

The 911 KenCom telecommunication staff and Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District were honored for their outstanding work during a dinner and awards ceremony at Rush Copley on September 18. Plaques were given to all eight of the individuals involved and also to Little Rock-Fox Fire Protection District Chief Greg Witek. Dispatcher Alex Geltz’s award was accepted posthumously by her family, as she succumbed to complications from cancer several months after this run.

In presenting the awards, Taxis said, “Well done. Phenomenal job.” He commended the responders on making good choices and acting quickly.

In addition to their plaques, the dispatchers and responders received praise and thanks from the patient.  “I want to say thank you,” Mrs. Solecki said. “I’m grateful that I’m here.”

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