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Cardiac near miss is a teaching moment

With heart attacks on the rise in the fire service, it is important to learn from this event

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel examines a near-miss incident where everything went right, yet urges us to take the time to learn the valuable lessons from it.

We spend a lot of time in the fire and emergency services analyzing, critiquing, and opining about what went wrong at incidents of all types, with (hopefully) the intent of identifying — and ultimately learning from — lessons experienced by our brother and sister firefighters across the globe. While sometimes difficult, we know this process is essential for helping our departments become learning organizations.

Even better, and all-too-rare in our business, is the opportunity to learn the positive lessons from incidents where everything went right; like this one in Winston-Salem.

It's easy to see that this situation had at least two possible results: one negative, as we've seen too many times before; and the positive story that resulted from Firefighter Spagnoletti's early recognition, immediate call for help, first responder EMS provided by his crew, the ALS care performed by the paramedics, and ultimate treatment/recovery in the hospital.

It was truly a team effort, but kudos to Firefighter Spagnoletti for giving himself, and everyone else, the best chance for a good outcome.

With heart attacks and other cardiac-related events continuing to account for a disproportionate share of firefighter deaths and injuries in the United States each year, this success story from Winston-Salem should be required reading in every firehouse across the nation.

Stay safe, stay fit and listen to your body!

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