Annually, the Sterling Heights Fire Department (SHFD) responds to over 100 cardiac arrest cases. Patient survival rates improve significantly where there is early recognition of the event, prompt intervention and transport by paramedics, and cardiac treatment administered by physicians at cardiac care hospital units.
Successful outcomes are very rewarding for all involved, the emotional investment forged at the time is enduring. Unfortunately, all too often first responders and patients have no contact once patient care is transferred to the primary care physician. To bridge this gap, the SHFD is initiating a Survival Coin Program. Through a small token presented by the SHFD, the bond that started under emergency conditions is sealed through a personal connection between first responder and patient celebrating a life saved.
On September 24, Erik Hakala, accompanied by his family and friends, visited Sterling Heights Fire Station 1 to meet the personnel that responded to his emergency and saved his life in December 2015. Erik was invited to the Station to meet the crews and become the fourth recipient of the Sterling Heights Fire Department Survival Coin. Shown in the above group photo, from left to right are; Nick Geisz, Sue Geisz, Jennie McFadden, Cody Dawson, Grant Attenberger, Keith Hakala, Kathy Hakala, Erik Hakala, Melissa Hakala, Michael Hakala, Firefighter Ryan Sears, Lieutenant Darryl Curtis, Lieutenant Jeff Vergauwen, Battalion Chief Mark Docherty, Firefighter Stephen Stover and Police Officer Dale Schmaltz. There were some tears shared, but they were tears of joy that such a meeting could take place.