Volunteer Firefighter Saves Life
Volunteer Firefighter Saves Life
Cookeville, TENN – As Waldo Vasquez was walking into the Wal-Mart Supercenter last month, he never dreamed of how his visit would turn out. At the same time, a Texas man who was shopping in the store, stopped breathing. As he collapsed into his wife’s arms, she remembered the feeling of helplessness. “I have never felt so helpless. I remember holding him and watching him die. It was the worst feeling, not knowing what to do. Then, it was like Waldo (Vasquez) came out of nowhere and just took over. I was so grateful for him in that moment.” She recounted.
Vasquez, who was headed into the store to shop, was walking through the parking lot when he was first notified. "I was walking in and my phone started making noise. It was PulsePoint telling me that CPR was needed nearby, in the Wal-Mart Pharmacy,” Vasquez remembered. As Vasquez, a Putnam County Fire Department volunteer firefighter hurried to the Pharmacy side of the store, he saw the commotion. "I went over and could hear his wife screaming that he was having a heart attack. I got down on the floor and started talking to him while I checked his breathing and pulse. He was unconscious but tried to squeeze my hand at first," Vasquez continued.
As Vasquez continued to assess the patient, he felt his pulse fade away, so he immediately started CPR. “I felt his pulse fade away to nothing, so I started CPR and told someone to call 911 back and tell them CPR was in-progress. I had just done CPR training for the fire department, but I never thought I would use it while I was out shopping,” Vasquez explained.
The Texas man was cared for by Putnam County EMS and Cookeville Fire Department paramedics on the scene, where they regained a pulse after shocking him with the ambulance's defibrillator. What responders didn't know at the time was that the man was headed to East Tennessee to go camping with his wife and had been complaining of chest pain off and on throughout the day. He was transported to Cookeville Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and had 2 stints placed to correct the blockages in his heart.
“I am so thankful for Waldo, my angel sent from God, and for the PulsePoint App. This app notified him I needed help, and there is no doubt in my mind that the combination of the two saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today if PulsePoint hadn’t notified Waldo I needed him. He knew exactly what to do and saved my life!” the Texas man proclaimed.
Putnam County Fire Chief Tom Brown praised Vasquez for his work. “Our members are dedicated to the citizens and visitors of Putnam County, whether they’re on official fire department business or going through their daily lives. Waldo did exactly what he was trained to do, without hesitation. He is a fine example of what we expect of our volunteers, and we are thankful for him.”
PulsePoint is a smartphone app purchased in cooperation among Putnam County 911, the Cookeville Regional Charitable Foundation, Tennessee Heart, and the Mended Hearts Cookeville Chapter. The app runs in the background of the user’s phone and notifies CPR-trained citizens of an event nearby that may need their skills.
PulsePoint was launched in Putnam County in February. Officials are excited that only two months after launch, the app already paid off. “We were so happy to learn of the outcome for this visitor to our county, and we’re especially proud of Firefighter Vasquez for his incredible work. We are very fortunate in Putnam County to have men and women who volunteer to make our community safer,” stated Mike Thompson, Putnam County 911 Director.
Each year approximately 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside hospitals. The majority of those victims do not survive. One of the first keys to survival is early CPR, by trained citizens, providing crucial care in the initial minutes following cardiac arrest. To learn more about PulsePoint, or to get involved and download the app, visit www.putnamcountytn.gov and click on 911 Center for more information.