East Jefferson Fire-Rescue firefighter who collapsed at Port Hadlock blaze recovering from cardiac arrest

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PORT TOWNSEND — A volunteer firefighter who was airlifted to a Seattle hospital Saturday suffered cardiac arrest and is expected to be discharged Friday, said Bill Beezley, spokesman for East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.

The 43-year-old volunteer with East Jefferson Fire-Rescue collapsed while fighting a blaze that gutted a small Port Hadlock office building off Rhody Drive and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The department declined to provide his name, saying the firefighter did not want it published.

Beezley said the volunteer firefighter had gone to the fire reported at 3:12 p.m. in the 20 block of Colwell Street in his personal vehicle, and he took over duties as pump operator on an engine providing water to the firefighters attacking the blaze.

Soon after, he felt dizzy and collapsed face-down on the pavement.

Firefighters jumped to his aid. He lacked a pulse, so a couple of firefighters began CPR and brought an automated external defibrillator from the engine while other firefighters continued fighting the fire.

When medics arrived, they prepared the firefighter for defibrillation while continuing CPR. He was shocked, and CPR continued.

About two minutes later, the firefighter regained consciousness and became combative, which is a common occurrence after resuscitation, Beezley said.

His heart had stopped for about two minutes, Beezley said.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue Fire Chief Gordon Pomeroy, who had arrived on scene by then, ordered an Airlift Northwest helicopter to fly the firefighter to Harborview.

“Our crew did a great job of following their ‘mayday’ training and staying focused on the fire while paramedics dealt with [the downed firefighter’s] cardiac arrest,” Pomeroy said.

“It can be tough when one of your own goes down at an incident and even tougher when you’re ordered to stay on the task at hand,” he added.

“I’m proud of our people for performing so well under that additional pressure.”

Investigators have determined that the cause of Saturday’s fire in the 1,500-square-foot office space was electrical, stemming from a spot under a desk in the southwest corner of the building, Beezley said.

The blaze was contained to the office, which was part of a larger group of connected buildings separated by firewalls.

Last modified: January 22. 2014 6:27PM
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