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Rocky Mount Fire Department Earns National Award

Rocky Mount Fire Department is One of Two Fire Departments in the Country to Earn National Award

Making a positive difference in the Rocky Mount community and in the lives of its citizens is one of the goals that keeps the Rocky Mount Fire Department continually striving to be better. It has also helped the department earn the prestigious Heart Safe Community Award. The award, given annually by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Emergency Medical Section, recognizes only two fire departments in the entire country. In addition to Rocky Mount, N.C., Rockford, Ill. received recognition. To earn this distinguished honor, these elite organizations must demonstrate creative approaches in implementing and maintaining systems to prevent and treat cardiac related diseases within their communities. The Rocky Mount Fire Department received the Heart Safe Community Award for departments in communities under 100,000 people. To earn the award, agencies must demonstrate improved quality of out-of-hospital resuscitation through bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillator (AED) deployment, out of hospital care and advanced life support. “The success of our program is based on multiple elements and includes community involvement, which is a key piece for us,” says Fire Chief Mike Varnell. The department received a federal grant through the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) that helped fund the deployment of 151 defibrillators to 125 locations throughout the city and the training of more than 4,500 citizens in hands-only CPR and use of the AED devices over the past two years. Other areas critical to the program’s positive outcome include early recognition and activation, which is the recognition by bystanders that there is a medical emergency and the initiation of steps to assist the victim. “Phillip Davis, one of our retirees, returned as our part-time life safety educator. This was funded by the grant, and was instrumental to the success of the program,” says Varnell. “He (Davis) partnered with our community leaders and businesses to place the AED devices and train our citizens in their use and the hands-only CPR.” Another element Varnell says was crucial in earning the award is the relationship between the fire department and the local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) departments of Nash and Edgecombe counties. “They are very advanced in transport and critical care, which helps take this to a whole other level,” says Varnell. “This is a process and all the pieces work very well together.” Though the Heart Safe Community Award is cause for celebration, the fire department is not resting on its laurels; they are always looking for ways to improve. “We want to keep progressing, keep moving forward,” says Varnell. “We are intentional and deliberate in providing the best service we possibly can for our community, and that is why we constantly push ourselves to do better.” Congratulations to the men and women of the Rocky Mount Fire Department for a much deserved recognition. Media Contact: Tameka Kenan-Norman Public Affairs Manager (252) 972-1333

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