Four Firefighters Presented With Life Saving Award

Steve and Barb Mazur, Waterville residents, thanked Waterville and Whitehouse firefighters (from left) Derek Francis, Nick Wismer, Dustin Richardson and Kyle Yeager – who were given Life Saving Awards for their response to Steve’s January 10 cardiac arrest. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Steve Mazur is thankful that Derek Francis, Dustin Richardson, Nick Wismer and Kyle Yeager all remembered their training.

On January 10, Barb Mazur called 911 to report that her husband was feeling ill. Wismer, a firefighter/ paramedic, and Yeager, a firefighter/EMT, were on duty and left the Waterville fire station within minutes.

“Our crew got there and realized the patient was seriously ill,” explained Waterville Deputy Chief Zach Bingham. 

As they were moving him into the ambulance, Steve became unresponsive: He stopped breathing and he didn’t have a pulse. Steve was in cardiac arrest, a medical condition in which the heart stops or is just quivering. 

The county Life Squad 9, with its more advanced equipment, was called in from Whitehouse and firefighter/paramedics Derek Francis and Dustin Richardson arrived quickly and assisted in caring for Steve while he was transported to McClaren St. Luke’s Hospital.

“That’s typically where the story ends,” Bingham told Waterville City Council members during their March 14 meeting. 

He discovered the next day that Steve made it out of the ER to a patient room. A few weeks later, Steve was discharged into a rehabilitation center and is now home. That recovery is amazing to Bingham, who explained that for those who go into cardiac arrest outside the hospital, the outlook is grim: Nationwide, less than 10 percent survive. In Lucas County, the statistic is slightly better, at 14 percent, due to training protocols, Bingham said. 

“The quick response played a key role in Mr. Mazur’s recovery,” the deputy chief believes.

As he sat in the front row in council chambers, Steve watched Bingham present the four first responders with the Life Saving Award.

“I’m humbly grateful and thankful that I was able to get revived. Thank God these firefighters remembered their training and put it to use,” Steve said as he sat next to Barb and their grandchildren. 

Waterville Mayor Tim Pedro and Whitehouse Mayor Don Atkinson applauded the team and said the incident demonstrates the close working relationship between the two departments, especially since voters approved funding for a fire co-op in 2020. 

That levy enabled the departments to always have staff on duty at the stations, so instead of waiting three or four minutes for volunteers to arrive, on-duty staff can leave the station quickly and be on the scene within a few minutes, said Waterville Fire Chief Doug Meyer.

“The difference in this scenario is that the patient would have already been unconscious and in cardiac arrest before we had even gotten there,” Meyer said. “This shows that the co-op is making a difference.”

Whitehouse Fire Chief Josh Hartbarger agreed.

“Obviously, this is an excellent display of teamwork and divine intervention,” Hartbarger said.

The two departments train together regularly to keep up to date on the newest techniques and protocols, as well as how to coordinate with each other. The staff also attends training with the county life squad.

“Responding to emergencies is obviously in our job description,” Bingham said. “We spend countless hours practicing for these events and have it down to a carefully orchestrated scene.” 

“This is what they do,” Atkinson said. “They save lives and do it over and over and over again.”

For Steve, who was told by his cardiologist that he’s all clear, the incident sent him a clear message.

“I’ve been given a good reminder from above: ‘Young man, you’re definitely finite here,’” Steve said.

For those who live in the community, it’s also a good reminder that anyone can learn CPR, added Bingham. He recommends that anyone who doesn’t practice regularly sign up for an annual training at one of the local fire departments.

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