CCFR awards certificates to Mendenhall Glacier staff for saving life

    Capital City Fire and Rescue and their EMS officer and fire chief will present certificates and small medallions to six of the Mendenhall Glacier's staff at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday for saving a life

    Capital City Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Richard Etheridge on Tuesday presented life-saving certificates and Chain of Survival medals to Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center staff and a Juneau Police Department dispatcher, whose efforts saved the life of a heart attack victim. Also assisting were CFR EMS Training Officer Joe Mishler and Assistant Fire Chief Ed Quinto.

    Pete Schneider, the center’s work leader at the time of the incident, said, “It was a very busy time at the glacier and Staff efficiently and calmly coordinated hectic bus traffic and assured clear access for emergency vehicles. This was definitely a team effort with all hands involved.”

    A sixty year old man visiting the glacier collapsed near the visitor center’s entry kiosk at about 6pm on June 14. Forest Service staff rushed to his side and began assisting two EMS-trained visitors who just happened to be nearby. CPR was initiated and Forest Service personnel quickly retrieved one of the center’s Automatic External Defibrillators (AED). Other staff contacted the Juneau Police Department via 911 and were guided through emergency procedures as fire and rescue personnel were en route to the glacier.  The AED was used to apply an electrical shock to the victim’s chest to restart his heart. The effort was successful and the man regained consciousness and was able to speak before the fire department arrived on scene within moments of the initial 911 call. The victim was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital then eventually relocated to a hospital outside Alaska.

    Joe Mishler, Capital City Fire and Rescue EMS training officer says they have seen a large increase in the past few years of patients in cardiac arrest being resuscitated:

    “Last year, 60% of those Capital City Fire / Rescue responded to in cardiac arrest, and a shockable rhythm on our arrival, not only survived the event, but were discharged from the hospital to return to their lives.  A big factor which has helped make a difference is bystanders willing to immediately start CPR and the availability and use of AED's. The crew at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center did everything right.  We were dispatched to a cardiac arrest with CPR in progress and arrived on scene to find a conscious, talking patient who didn't think he needed to go to the hospital!”

    Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Director John Neary said, “We are happy to have helped a visitor to Juneau survive what might have been a fatal heart attack. With more than 550,000 visitors during summer we try to be prepared for a variety of emergency situations. We have two AEDs on site.”

    Assistant Director Nikki Hinds credits the excellent staff at the glacier and the training they receive at the start of each year:

    “We provide 8 hours’ first aid and AED training each spring for all our staff. Some have earned more in-depth 80-hour training through the Wilderness First Responder program. It all pays off when we have a successful save like this one.”

    Hinds organizes the training program for the visitor center’s seasonal staff, including comprehensive safety and interpretive skills.

    The June rescue is the second time a Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center AED has been used successfully. In 2002, a week after the first defibrillator was installed, it was used to save a life.

    After the June incident the glacier AED’s electrode pads were replaced and the device is ready for another life-saving mission. There are at least 185 AEDs in Juneau. A special tag is now attached to the visitor center’s AED that states “This AED saved a life.”

    Director John Neary said "This little tag is a proud reminder of the opportunity we have to provide an essential service to people."


    Rangers with certificates: Lauren Parker, Stephanie Bogle, Pete Schneider, Clint Augustson, Melissa Baechle, Janet Anderson, Anne McLean;

    Group photo with Capital City Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ed Quinto; EMS Training Officer Joe Mishler; Fire Chief Rich Etheridge; Juneau Police Department Dispatcher Sayde Ridling observing ranger Janet Anderson, holding the AED, receiving her certificate and medal

    AED special tag given by Southeast Extinguisher

    Chain of Survival medallion

    Capital City Fire and Rescue and their EMS officer and fire chief will present certificates and small medallions to six of the Mendenhall Glacier's staff at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday for saving a life.

    The event is planned for outside at the tent near the base of the visitor center steps. You can check with the ranger near the flagpoles when you arrive if you'd like join the celebration.

    Mendenhall Glacier staff along with two visiting EMTs on June 14 saved the life of a man who collapsed from a heart attack. Laurie Craig says their AED and staff, with lots of help from a JPD dispatcher, plus good training, saved a life.

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