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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Be ready: Cardiac events can strike anyone, anytime

Know the signs of cardiac arrest and stroke and swiftly treat those symptoms

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel urges us all to recognize and quickly treat the symptoms of heart attack and stroke in ourselves and others, because these events can strike anyone at any time.

It's great to see a positive outcome to this story and I'm sure you'll all join me in thanking Firefighter (and police officer and Iraq War veteran) Darhower for his service to our nation, as well as wishing him a complete recovery and return to duty.

I've written several times in the past about the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms, in ourselves and others, of a potential heart attack, stroke or other medical condition. This is easy to say, of course, but in my experience it's not always easy to practice. Generally speaking, we firefighters don't always make the best patients.

The real lesson in this story is that cardiac-related emergencies can strike at any age, and often without warning. We don't generally associate this type of event with younger responders (whatever that means). But we know it can happen to folks who are in good condition, and even after a clean physical examination.

The key again is to learn about, recognize and swiftly treat the signs and symptoms — every time. If it's nothing, so much the better. But if it's something, you might just save a life.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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