The East Pierce Fire and Rescue Foundation has launched a new group with one of the toughest membership requirements of any organization. To qualify, members must have died and been resuscitated by either firefighters or law officers.
“But once you are in, you are one of the luckiest people on the planet,” East Pierce Survivors Society President Duane Bratvold said.
A cardiac arrest survivor himself, Bratvold was saved by the firefighters of East Pierce.
“We wanted to start a support group of survivors, but also provide a way to give back to the community,” he said.
Law enforcement was included because of the marine units on Lake Tapps and dive teams who respond with the East Pierce dive teams to incidents on the lake and local rivers.
It also recognizes the recent partnership between the fire district and the police departments in Bonney Lake, Sumner, Edgewood and Milton in an AED program. Over the past year, East Pierce has provided automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for each police cruiser in those communities and trained the police officers on how to use them. With the AEDs, they can start CPR and shock a person who is in cardiac arrest without waiting for the firefighters to arrive.
The Foundation was launched in 2013 as a non-profit organization to improve the lives of the community through compassionate outreach services and access to public safety education programs.
“In partnership with the fire district, we will help create a safer and more supportive community for the citizens in the East Pierce service area,” Bratvold said.
The Foundation focuses on three initiatives, providing smoke alarms for East Pierce firefighters to install in high-risk homes free of charge; underwrite the cost of adult CPR classes; and to fund the Sentimental Journey Program, a cooperative effort with the Foundation, fire district and MultiCare/Good Samaritan Home Health and Hospice to provide one last ride somewhere special to hospice patients.
The Survivors Society will focus on raising money and awareness for the CPR program. This important program helps in two ways. It teaches critical life-saving skills and soon, the Foundation will help launch an area-wide campaign to encourage citizens to call 911 sooner when they experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Those interested in joining the Survivors Society, may contact Duane at firstname.lastname@example.org.