An 18-year-old Danielle DeVito, a paramedic and AHA volunteer, was inspired to join this profession when she was on a city bus going to visit a friend and witnessed an accident. Two female responders got out of an ambulance to help the person, who almost died. It was the first time she had observed a professional responder in action – and also the first time seeing a person’s life saved right before her eyes.
Danielle realized right then and there that EMS was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She was intrigued by the thought of helping people in emergency situations and being that link between someone being unsure of what to do, calling for assistance and looking for someone with training to show up. She says, “You may not have all of the answers, but you definitely have the tools from training to assist the community.”
While Danielle was working, she observed young and older people suffering strokes and cardiac arrest. She started to realize that few people seemed to recognize the signs of a stroke and even less started CPR before a first responder showed up. Danielle wondered if there was something that she could do to encourage more people to take action.
She searched for ways to help people before they call 9-1-1, which is what brought her to volunteer with AHA on the program Power to End Stroke, an education and awareness campaign that seeks to impact the high
Danielle thinks learning CPR is important for the simple fact that a person never know when someone standing or sitting next to them will go into cardiac arrest. Danielle appreciates the pass-along effect of her education efforts, saying, “If I am able to teach one person what to do, that person will go home and help their families.”
As part of their jobs, EMS professionals are required to keep up their skills and stay current with best practices and guidelines. Danielle likens the body to a computer in that it is always changing. “Every few weeks,” she says, “it is time to reboot and update.” Those in her field are typically the first professionals on the scene with knowledge on how to treat a victim. “We are held to a very high standard,” she states, “Our reports are filed with hospitals and even with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. So we need to be at the top of our game.”
Danielle is inspired by her daughter, who used to sit quietly in a chair while Danielle taught CPR courses. She remembers when her daughter was four years old, she suddenly got up and started doing CPR on an infant manikin. Her daughter, now 13 years old, was recently told to do 15 compressions as part of CPR education in her health class. Her daughter corrected the teacher and said, “You need to do 30 compressions to the song ‘Stayin’ Alive.”
June 15 – 21 is designated as EMS Week in recognition of those who put their lives on the line in order to save lives. During this week – and every week during the year – we salute our EMS providers for all of the work that they do to make our communities a great place to live, work and play.