Firefighters use AED to rescue watch commander


Crew Commander Andy Reid (left) and Firefighter John Sharpe (right) saved Watch Commander Billy Scott (centre) after he suffered cardiac arrest in the fire station. Sharpe holds the Powerheart AED they used to help save his life.

It was “pure luck” that firefighters were in the Mauchline Community Fire Station the night that Watch Commander Billy Scott collapsed with cardiac arrest. A story in Scotland’s Evening Times describes how, after a three-hour night drill, most of the crew had left the station the night of Oct. 6, 2009, and gone home. Scott stayed on to handle some paperwork, as did Crew Commander Andy Reid and Firefighter John Sharpe.

Reid and Sharpe were working at the computer when they heard a noise, turned around, and saw that Scott had collapsed. His vital signs were fading. They grabbed the station’s Powerheart automated external defibrillator, attached the pads, and used the device to administer a shock that restored Scott’s heartbeat.

“The first thing I remember after collapsing was waking up in hospital with tubes coming out of me,” Scott said. “I owe my life to John and Andy. Firefighters are supposed to be life-savers but I bet they didn’t think they’d save a colleague’s life in their own fire station!”

All Strathclyde Fire and Rescue teams have been equipped with AEDs since 2007. Telemetry from the defibrillator provided doctors with information about Scott’s heart attack. They concluded that the prompt use of the defibrillator was what saved his life.

Reid and Sharpe were honored in May with service awards for their actions. Scott, who received an implanted defibrillator, is on the road to recovery.

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