Decatur firefighters in front of Decatur City Hall after being recognized for saving a life.
Each year, emergency medical staff professionals treat nearly 300,000 people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital, according to the American Heart Association. If defibrillation is provided within five to seven minutes, the survival rate is approximately 30 percent.
In DeKalb County, medical staff arrived on time during a recent incident where an individual suffered cardiac arrest. The patient, who happened to have a cardiac arrest episode on his birthday, was assisted by Decatur Firefighters and other medical personnel.
In September, Decatur city officials honored AMR paramedic Taylor Hiffner, EMT Mbill Khan and firefighters from Decatur Fire and Rescue Department for their role in securing a positive outcome for the patient experiencing cardiac arrest.
Decatur Fire and Rescue Chief Toni Washington said first responders answered a call of a young man who was suffering from cardiac arrest.
“They were able to save a life and we’d just like to recognize them on a job well done,” said Washington. “This is what we do every day, but we definitely like to celebrate when we save a life.”
Decatur’s Engine No. 1 crew, who responded to the call, received a “lifesaving” award from AMR officials.
Hiffner said working in DeKalb County usually keeps him busy. When Hiffner was told he was going to receive an award, he thought someone was playing a prank on him, he said.
“It was definitely a surprise. I thought it was kind of a joke or something,” Hiffner said. “I don’t go to work every morning and think I deserve a ‘thank you.’ This is what we do. It’s what we’re here for, but it’s also nice to be recognized.”
Hiffner recalled another incident in Stone Mountain where first responders were able to revive a woman who had fallen and hit her head when leaving a dinner party. The woman suffered an asthma attack and fell, resulting in her being knocked unconscious.
Hiffner said first responders don’t have time to hesitate when someone’s life is on the line.
“When something like that happens, you immediately start thinking of XYZ and what information you know. You have to stay on your toes no matter what you do,” Hiffner said. “Toe pain can turn into a heart attack or stroke very quickly.”
DeKalb first responders were able to save the woman and restart her heart before she reached the hospital, Hiffner said.
Hiffner said while he enjoys working in DeKalb with DeKalb firefighters and first responders, he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I’m just doing my job. My job means the world to me, but I put my clothes on the same way everyone else does,” Hiffner said.