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From left, Ashley Schweers, Ryan Pennington, Thomas Parks, Valerie Glassman, Paul Armstrong and Joseph Gamatoria of the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps were honored at the company banquet Saturday for their roles during a mass casualty incident when a bus crashed on I-95 last May.
From left, Ashley Schweers, Ryan Pennington, Thomas Parks, Valerie Glassman, Paul Armstrong and Joseph Gamatoria of the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps were honored at the company banquet Saturday for their roles during a mass casualty incident when a bus crashed on I-95 last May. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps honored its lifesavers Saturday, members who revived a patient in cardiac arrest and delivered them to the hospital with a pulse.

“A save for EMS is a good, strong pulse and blood pressure,” Chief Peter Quackenbush said as he delivered his chief’s report for 2017 during the volunteer EMS company’s annual awards banquet at Level Fire Hall.

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Quackenbush said the definition of a save for EMS has changed over the years, from a patient revived by EMS, delivered to a hospital and then the patient walking out of a hospital, to now a patient delivered to a hospital with a pulse and blood pressure.

What happens to a patient after they are brought to the hospital is out of EMS’ control, as they could go back into cardiac arrest and die, but Quackenbush stressed the Havre de Grace providers might have given the patient’s loved ones enough time to say goodbye.

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The Ambulance Corps responded to 2,313 calls for service in 2017, including 51 calls involving cardiac arrest, according to the banquet program. The Corps handled 310 fewer total calls last year. The 2,623 calls in 2016 were a peak within the past five years, according to the program.

The chief said “high-performance CPR is really the key” to saving more lives. He said the process is “all about [chest] compressions all the time...we’re seeing better outcomes for us” in EMS.

“It’s important that we stay on the chest as long as possible,” Quackenbush said.

High-performance CPR, with “minimal breaks” in chest compressions, means a significant increase in the chances a patient can be revived, according to documents posted on the website of the Resuscitation Academy, which provides a fellowship program for EMS leaders to improve patient survival after cardiac arrest.

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The Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps honored multiple members who saved lives in 2017, including Zachary Coyle, the company’s past president, as well as Donald Hawkins, Donna Geisel, Samantha Armstrong, Paul Armstrong, Haley Kane, Ashley Quackenbush and Peter Quackenbush.

The Corps also honored volunteer and paid EMS providers who responded to a “mass casualty” incident last May, when a charter bus shuttling middle school students, teachers and parents from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., crashed on Interstate 95 near the Route 155 interchange.

The crash tied up north- and south-bound traffic on the interstate for hours. About 30 people were injured, and multiple patients were taken to hospitals in Harford County, Baltimore and Delaware.

Corps leaders recognized the Philadelphia Police recruits who were traveling in their own bus behind the students and stopped to aid the injured.

“They did a great job of assessing patients,” Quackenbush said.

The paid and volunteer providers with the Corps who received an award Saturday included Ashley Schweers, Ryan Pennington, Valerie Glassman, Paul Armstrong, Peter Quackenbush and company president Joseph Gamatoria.

Top honors

Thomas E. Parks was named EMS Person of the Year for 2017. Paul Armstrong and Angela Gates received the 14th Annual Mary T. Gibson Training Award.

Quackenbush cited their efforts to teach “hands-on” CPR to members of the community.

Outgoing President Zachary Coyle, who led the Ambulance Corps from 2015 to 2017, presented the President’s Award to Robert Angelucci, a member of the board of directors.

Coyle received the Past President’s Award for his three years of service, along with a citation from Gov. Larry Hogan.

Larry Bayliss earned Rookie of the Year for 2017.

Members Connie Forster, Loren Kelly and Ashley Schweers were recognized for five years of service, and members Richard Boyd III, John Correri Jr., Ronald Kane and Sharon Zachry were honored for 10 years.

Paul Armstrong and Carol Barnett were honored for 20 years of service, and Jeremy Mothershed for 25 years.

The top responders for 2017 were Paul Armstrong with 374 calls; Dale Clark, 287; Larry Bayliss, 247; Thomas Parks, 126; Peter Quackenbush, 104; Nicole Miller, 88, Haley Kane, 83; Mark Forster, 78; Ashley Quackenbush, 73 and Amanda Woods, 59 calls.

Strong partnerships

Ambulance Corps leaders highlighted their company’s strong relationship with the City of Havre de Grace, Harford County, the Havre de Grace Police Department, the Susquehanna Hose Company, the city’s volunteer fire company, and Vulcan Materials Co., which operates a quarry in Havre de Grace and leases property to the Ambulance Corps for its station off Route 155.

Representatives of those entities highlighted that relationship, in turn.

“[We] cannot put in plain English what you guys mean to the city,” Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin said.

County Councilman Curtis Beulah, whose district includes Havre de Grace, said Corps members “save lives, and you just can’t put a price on that.”

The banquet’s master of ceremonies, Richard Brooks, touched on the need for compassion for all patients, even in situations where providers make repeat visits to the same address, such as when EMS workers have to use Narcan to revive the same person who has suffered multiple drug overdoses.

“I need to implore on you, the EMS providers of Harford County, compassion,” said Brooks, the director of emergency services for Cecil County and a past chief of the Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company in northern Harford.

Brooks reminded those at the banquet that Maryland is in a state of emergency because of an ongoing opioid and heroin crisis — Gov. Larry Hogan declared the state of emergency to fight opioid addiction in 2017.

“We don’t subscribe to ‘three strikes and you’re out,’ not on my watch,” Brooks said.

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