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Medical jacks of all trades
Life-saving effort highlights crucial role of EMTs
new deh emt week schartz pic
Pictured are Shannon and Jennifer Schartz. The two credit Great Bend Emergency Medical Services for saving Shannons life after he had a heart attack. National Emergency Medical Technicians Week ended Saturday. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

“ I could very easily have been his widow.”
– Jennifer Schartz, who credited EMTs with saving her husband Shannon’s life

At about 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, Shannon Schartz, an avid tennis player and coach, was playing the game he loved. Then, he suddenly collapsed on the court gasping for air.
He had suffered a heart attack.
His tennis buddies and Club One Fitness employees immediately called 911.
“The ambulance arrived within a few short minutes,” and Great Bend Fire Department emergency medical technicians immediately worked to save him, his wife Jennifer Schartz said. “Had it not been for a series of well-trained experts being in the right place at the right time, I could very easily have been his widow.”
“It’s just part of the job,” said EMT Tony Leeds, who along with EMT Austin Ledy, were the first on the scene that night. “It just goes to show you that at anytime, anything can happen.”
The Schartzes’ experience vividly drives home the importance of emergency medical care. As it so happens, this past week was National Emergency Medical Technicians Week, with the theme “EMS: Dedicated. For Life.”
“It is a good time to say thank you,” Schartz said. “Please join me in making them feel appreciated.”
Around for over 40 years, the annual observance is sponsored by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

“A well-oiled machine”
As for Shannon’s story, it didn’t end with the EMTs. They utilized cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and also used the defibrillator several times. “Although they were unable to get a pulse, they did not quit,” Jennifer said.
“When we arrived, he wasn’t breathing and there was no pulse,” Leed said. “We started CPR and after two minutes, reached for the paddles.”
In all, Shannon was shocked four times. The EMTs started medication, intubated him and prepared him for transport.
As Leed and Ledy worked, Acting Battalion Chief Luke McCormick and firefighter Michael Reifschneider arrived to help. “We work as a shift. It is like well oiled machine,” Leed said.
Shannon was taken to Great Bend Regional Hospital where CPR was continued for nearly an hour with no pulse. The emergency room staff did not give up either, even though the outcome for such prolonged CPR is usually not positive.
“Through their diligence and expertise, his heart finally gained a rhythm and he was given a chance to survive,” she said.
Once Shannon was stabilized, he was flown by Eagle Med to Hays Regional Hospital. “I was unaware at the time that Hays even had a cardiac unit, but we are very fortunate to have such an excellent facility so close to home.
“He received wonderful, advanced care there by a well-trained, compassionate staff,” Jennifer said. “They marveled at his recovery and were quick to point out how critical those first few minutes following a cardiac arrest are in the patient’s eventual survival. Happily, Shannon is expected to have a full recovery.”

A deep debt of gratitude
The list of those who helped her husband is a long one, Jennifer said. “But I know how humble those professionals are and how ready they are to pass their part of the save to the next person down the line.”
Anyone on any shift would have been qualified to do the job. “However, our heroes know who they are and I hope they realize the depth of my appreciation. For them it was just another day on the job, but for our family, it is a day we will never forget.”
Everyone living in Barton County should feel secure knowing that we are so well served, she said. “As a Barton County commissioner, I have always been supportive of emergency services because when the need arises you want help to be available for everyone.”
“It was a team effort,” Leed said – from the EMTs to the doctors to a “higher power.”
Through the budget, the county supports the four Barton County EMS services with about 1.6 mills or $465,000 annually, Jennifer said. “A couple of years ago they came to us with a need of $25,000 for additional training, which I supported with my vote. I never knew how important that would be to me personally.”
 According to the NAEMT, in 1973, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS, its practitioners and the important work they do responding to medical emergencies. Coming on the heels of Congress passing the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act, the first EMS Week celebrations were held when EMS was a fledgling industry.
EMS practitioners were only beginning to emerge as a critical component of emergency medicine, the public health safety nets. EMS is now recognized for its role in saving lives from sudden cardiac arrest and trauma; in getting people to the hospitals best equipped to treat heart attacks and strokes; and in setting the stage for a positive care experience.
 “We are jacks of all trades,” Leed said of EMTs. But, what they do is crucial and requires constant training to stay up on health care advancements.