Ask any fire and rescue volunteer about the rewards of serving, and you’re sure to be met with moving stories. These stories fuel their passion, help them grow and shape their lives. Andrew Sauer, Rescue Lieutenant with the Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department is no different.
When asked about the rewards of volunteering, Sauer recalled a particularly memorable situation. It was a few months after he had graduated from paramedic school and received the endorsement of PWC’s medical director to practice as an advanced life support provider. This is a great honor to achieve, but it comes with significant responsibility.
As a paramedic, you are the highest trained medical provider on an EMS call and, therefore, are in charge of the patient’s care. You make decisions about how to treat cardiac events and whether or not a helicopter is needed to get an auto accident victim to a trauma center faster. “It’s a lot of responsibility that weighed heavily on my 21-year-old mind at the time,” said Sauer.
Sauer and his team were dispatched on a call for a woman experiencing chest pain. “When we reached her, we found her in tremendous pain and very sick,” said Sauer. “I went through my assessment and called on my months of training, and decided to do an EKG to get an idea of what was going on with her heart.”
It turned out she was having a massive heart attack. “I remember feeling panicked for a couple of seconds,” said Sauer. “Here I was in charge of making sure this woman survived. My training kicked in, and I started on a plan of attack.”
The fire engine crew brought in a stretcher and got the ambulance ready to rapidly leave the scene. The crew put the patient on oxygen, got a list of vital signs and, together, they got her into the ambulance. “I placed an IV, administered four or five medications for various purposes, and we contacted dispatch to send us a helicopter to get her to Fairfax Hospital. All of this happened in a matter of minutes,” said Sauer.
The team met the helicopter crew on a nearby field, and Sauer gave their crew a report of what had been done. “We sent the woman on her way, having done everything in our power to help her,” said Sauer.
Months later, a colleague of Sauer’s approached him at a training event and told him he had run into a friend of hers. It was the woman having the heart attack, and Sauer was thrilled to hear she had made a complete recovery. “It was the first patient who was truly fighting for her life that I had been in charge of treating, and it was incredibly rewarding to know that my team and I had made a huge impact on her life,” shared Sauer.
In addition to instances like these, Sauer has found something even greater from his time as a volunteer. “The most rewarding experience has been how volunteering has changed me as a person,” he said. “I’ve seen both the dark and the light sides of life. My first night on duty, we helped a woman deliver her baby. I got to witness life beginning.”
Sauer notes he has since been present for many less celebratory occasions and tragedies, but also many more positives. “I’ve met parents suffering through the terminal illness of a child, and I’ve seen patients of mine walking around in public after surviving a nearly fatal event. I feel like I am much more grounded because of these experiences.”
Sauer joined the department, in his words, as a “clueless 18-year-old kid with no life experience.”
“I didn’t know how other people lived. I didn’t appreciate everything I had as a child. I didn’t take seriously how quickly people’s lives can change,” he said. “[Volunteering] has opened my eyes in many ways that I otherwise might still be ignorant to, and for that I am grateful.”
To begin your own life-changing journey, find out more about becoming a fire and rescue volunteer with Prince William County. And stay tuned for part four of Sauer’s story.
Are you looking for a change? Here in Prince William County, the volunteer departments provide fire and emergency medical services to the County’s citizens and visitors during weekday evenings, weekends and holidays. Prince William County’s volunteer fire and rescue departments are seeking motivated individuals who have the desire to make a difference and provide an important service to their community. Learn more now.
- Posted by ATW
- On December 15, 2017
- 0 Comments