Fire Awards: Remotely Recognizing Some Lifesaving Heroes

The 2021 Police and Fire Department Award Ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 18, at the South Milwaukee Common Council meeting.

We want to thank all our officers, firefighters, and citizens for the work they do each day to make our city safer, and we want to especially thank our award recipients for their exceptional acts.

You can read about a few of the South Milwaukee Fire Department award recipients below. Here are the remarks from Fire Chief Joseph Knitter …

As you know, due to the pandemic, EMS Awards were not presented last year. However, tonight I am going to highlight a call that would have been included in last year’s presentation that took place in the early morning hours of November 6, 2019. From the SMFD, I’d like to call up Lt. Andy Mahn, Lt. Ryan Wendt, FF/P Ryan Miksa, and FF/EMT Nate Christensen.

But, before I provide details of this specific incident, let me provide a little background information . . . please keep in mind that, in 2019, throughout Milwaukee County, the survival rate for a person that suffered sudden cardiac arrest was only 13%. Of those 13% that experience the Return of Spontaneous Circulation, around 45% are discharged alive from the hospital. And, even less are discharged with no deficits and go on to make a full recovery.

So, this is where the call that took place in the early morning hours of November 6, 2019, comes into play . . . At approximately, 1:40AM that morning, SMFD received a 9-1-1 call for an unresponsive female at a single-family residence. Upon arrival, SMFD crews found the female to be without a pulse and not breathing. They immediately began providing Advanced Life Support measures for a sudden cardiac arrest by starting CPR with our LUCAS CPR Device, placing an airway to breath for the patient, and administering medications to attempt to convert her heart’s rhythm. After what probably seemed like an eternity to the patient’s husband, who had originally started CPR and called 9-1-1, but was documented at about 32 minutes, the patient regained her pulse and started to attempt to breath on her own. The patient was transported to Ascension – Franklin Hospital for definitive care, and eventually was discharged and has made a full recovery.

This patient and her family are joining us tonight via Zoom from her daughter’s house in Las Vegas. I’d like to introduce you to the Schweikl Family – Debbie, our patient; Jay – her husband whose efforts, by the way, cannot go unmentioned because he played a significant role in Debbie’s survival by calling 9-1-1 early and attempting CPR. When we talk about the chain of survival, the first two links for a bystander are activation of emergency response (9-1-1) and high-quality CPR.

So, with that . . . I’d like to present our SMFD EMS Heroes their Letter of Commendation.

On Wednesday, November 6th, 2019, you were part of an EMS crew that responded to a 9-1-1 call to a residence for a report of an unresponsive female. Upon your arrival, your crew determined the patient was pulseless and non-breathing and Advanced Life Support (ALS) efforts were initiated. The patient experienced the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and was transported to Ascension – Franklin Hospital for definitive care and, subsequently, made a full and remarkable recovery.

Your professionalism, proficiency and skill in treating this patient undoubtedly contributed to saving her life. On behalf of the South Milwaukee Fire Department and the citizens of our community, I would like to commend you for your actions that day. Your dedication to providing such excellent patient care clearly demonstrates your commitment to carrying on the South Milwaukee Fire Department’s proud reputation of Excellence in Public Service.

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