By CHRIS EVERSOLE
February is American Heart Month, and it took on special meaning for the Mustang Fire Department this year.
Rescue crews from the department saved the lives of two Mustang women in their 50s, an accomplishment that earned them the department’s Life Saving Award.
City Manager Timothy Rooney presented the awards at the July 2 city council meeting.
Nothing makes him prouder than to see his employees save a life, Rooney said.
Fire Chief Craig Carruth said the two successful resuscitation over a short period of time are very unusual and are a tribute to the high level of training within the fire
Eight of the department’s 21 paid staff members are certified paramedics, and one more has completed his training and will soon take his certification test.
Another five firefighters are advanced-care paramedics, a classification that allows them to start IVs and insert breathing tubes.
“Not a whole lot of fire departments has the majority of the department with some form of paramedic credentials,” Carruth said.
In a call at 3:30 a.m. Feb. 12, rescuers went to the home of Melissa Keplinger in response to a call from her husband, Jerry.
They defibrillated her five times before her heart started beating.
Carruth credited Jerry Keplinger with doing a good job of administering CRP, which was a key to her survival.
Keplinger was talking with rescue crews before an ambulance from EMSA, which provides advanced medical transport throughout central Oklahoma, drove her to Integris Baptist Medical Center.
Doctors found that one of her heart arteries was 100 percent blocked, and they inserted a stent in it.
Keplinger is doing well, and she presented the Life Saving Awards to the crew.
It included then-Assistant Chief Roy Widmann (who has since retired), Cpt. Andy Willrath, Lt. Tom Lewis, Cpl. Levi Setliff, firefighter Justin McGehee and firefighter Kade Loupe.
The second rescue came at 4:40 a.m. Feb. 22 to the home of LaDonna Ray on N. Cherokee Way.
She also did not have a pulse.
Firefighters used advanced life-support techniques, including placing an IV into her lower leg.
They defibrillate her once, and her heart started beating.
EMSA transported Ray to OU Medical Center, where she received an internal defibrillator, the fire department reported.
She is doing well, the report said.
The firefighters honored for rescuing Ray were Carruth, Cpt. Allen Sylvester, Lt. Chris Edwards, Cpl. Buddy Corbin, Cpl. Josh Moore, Cpl. Eric Halter and firefighter Morgan Peck.