3 rescued from W. Va. coal mine

3 rescued from W. Va. coal mine

Associated Press 

CLEAR CREEK, W.Va.  — Three people missing since last weekend were found alive Wednesday in an underground coal mine in West Virginia, authorities said.

The three were located Wednesday inside Elk Run Coal’s Rock House Powellton mine near Clear Creek, the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said in a statement. The mine was described as nonoperational.

The statement didn’t indicate their conditions. It said crews were working to bring them to the surface. TV news video later showed them emerging from an ambulance and walking into a hospital escorted by law officers and rescue workers.

The Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office had identified them as Kayla Williams, 25, of Artie; Erica Treadway, 31, of Pax; and Cody Beverly, 21, of Dorothy. They’d been missing since Saturday. An abandoned ATV the four were believed to be riding was found near the mine entrance.

The Register-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia, reported Wednesday that Williams’ aunt, Sandra Scarbro of Clear Creek, said, “We got our Christmas miracle.”

She added, “All we really know is she’s alive, and we’re so thankful that she’s out and that they’re all out. We appreciate everybody in the community, the governor and rescuers, everything everybody has done.”

Scarbro said Williams was conscious when rescuers found her in the mine.

Williams’ cousin by marriage, Lou Ellen Williams, said the family is “just so happy and relieved.”

“I’m tickled that they’re all OK,” she said. “They said they are battered, but they’re alive. That’s all that matters.”

On Monday night, 43-year-old Eddie Williams of Artie walked out of the mine.

It’s unclear whether Kayla and Eddie Williams are related. It’s also unclear why they were at the mine or what condition they were in.

Crews had used fans to move fresh air into the mine while pumps cleared some standing water inside the mine but the water levels remained too high and hampered search efforts.

According to the mine safety office, coal has not been mined at the underground location for two years.

Family counseling: Keeping bonds strong

Family counseling: Keeping bonds strong

By Dr. Marie Isom, faculty member, American Military University; and Teresa Chambers, academic advisor, American Military University

First responder families face significant challenges. When a parent or spouse is a first responder, they often work long shifts and odd hours. The work itself is highly demanding and stressful. These pressures can take a toll on the family unit, causing strain on marriages and parent-child relationships.

How stress affects first responder families

First responder families face unique stressors, which can be overcome with the help of a professional family counselor. (Photo/AMU)
First responder families face unique stressors, which can be overcome with the help of a professional family counselor. (Photo/AMU)

Many first responder family members fear that their loved one may be retaliated against or harmed because of their profession. This stress and worry can be especially detrimental to children. While childhood is a relatively short time period in an individual’s life, what happens during this impressionable time can have life-long effects.

Marriages can also be damaged. Shift work and long hours can cause disconnect between partners. A first responder’s spouse may feel like a single parent who has to handle all the home and family responsibilities. When the first responder is home, they are often unavailable because they need time to decompress and rest for their next shift. Those who are required to be on-call are never really “off” work and aren’t able to give their undivided attention to their spouse and family.

For all these reasons, every first responder family should consider enlisting the help of a professional family counselor. Family counseling is unique in that it provides the opportunity to address issues impacting cohesion among family members as opposed to addressing an individual’s needs within the family.

Benefits of family counseling

During family counseling, several members of the family meet with a counselor at the same time, which allows the counselor to observe family dynamics. The counselor can also provide mediation, when appropriate, to help individuals share their perspective and feelings.

Children can particularly benefit from family counseling. Many children have feelings of abandonment and parent-detachment issues, as well as fears of parental injury. They also have to cope with inconsistent schedules and changing routines. Children absorb parental responses to situations and they observe parental discourse, so counseling can help them better understand what’s happening around them in the home. For example, if there is tension between parents or one parent is experiencing high levels of stress, children can also start feeling tense or stressed out. In addition, if a parent doesn’t cope with stress in a healthy way, they could be inadvertently teaching children unhealthy coping strategies.

Family counseling can help with these issues by teaching the entire family to better communicate and understand one another. A family counselor can provide family-friendly techniques to help with stress management, healthy coping techniques, enhanced communication skills and better time management.

Family self-care strategy: take a mindfulness walk

Families navigating stressful careers can benefit from family activities that focus on self-care. One specific activity families can do together is a mindfulness walk. The following steps will guide you through the process:

  1. Choose a place to take a walk together, even if it’s in your own neighborhood.
  2. Walk in silence at a gentle pace, no talking.
  3. Each family member should focus on their body and the sensations they feel. How do your legs feel with each step? Your feet? Are they light and relaxed or heavy and tense?
  4. Engage your hearing by listening for the quietest sounds (your own breathing, wind rustling in the trees, leaves crunching under your feet, etc.).
  5. Focus on being in the moment. If you begin thinking, worrying or planning things, pause for a moment and refocus on body sensations and listening for those quiet sounds.

As your family practices taking mindfulness walks, it is okay to stop and refocus a few times. The purpose is for each family member to be present in the moment and focus on his/her body sensations and/or sounds they hear in the environment. After the walk, your family can spend time talking about the experience and processing what changes they noticed in their body and mind. This simple activity allows families to spend some peaceful, quality time together to reconnect.

In addition to working with a trained counselor, a number of agencies are dedicated to supporting responders and their families including:

First responder families face unique needs and challenges. Through open communication, positive coping strategies and commitment, first responder families can overcome obstacles to be a strong and healthy family unit.

About the Author
Dr. Marie Isom is an associate professor of school counseling at American Military University. She earned a B.S. in Psychology at Central Michigan University, an M.A. in School Counseling at Marymount University and an Ed. D. in Counseling Psychology at Argosy University/Phoenix. She is a National Board-certified K-12 professional school counselor, National-Board certified counselor, career development facilitator, approved clinical supervisor and licensed clinical professional counselor. She specializes in counseling and therapy with children, adolescents and families.

Teresa N. Chambers, M.Ed., is an academic advisor with American Military University. Teresa is a recent graduate of American Military University’s School Counseling Program. Teresa is also currently enrolled in Liberty University’s Ed.D. in Community Care and Counseling: Traumatology.

To reach the authors, email IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight fr

Training day: 3 Waveform capnography scenarios

Training day: 3 Waveform capnography scenarios

By Jake Mellor

A previous article provided five training scenarios to help BLS providers better understand common capnography waveforms and how this information can lead to more adequate treatment for a patient.

Below are three more scenarios, which will spur discussion about more complex yet still common conditions that providers may encounter in the pre-hospital setting. In each scenario, students will see how waveform capnography can be vital to a quicker diagnosis and better patient care.

Waveform capnography is a tool that EMS providers at any level can use. (Photo/USAF)
Waveform capnography is a tool that EMS providers at any level can use. (Photo/USAF)

The goal for students completing these scenarios should be to recognize a few more common and distinct waveforms, as well as next treatment steps.

Waveform Capnography Scenario 1: Congestive heart failure

EMS arrives on scene to find a 68-year-old male patient with a chief complaint of difficulty breathing. Patient is situated in a tripod position, and vital signs are quickly obtained:

HR: 122
BP: 160/100
RR: 24 and labored
SpO2: 88 percent
ETCO2: 30 mmHg
Lung sounds: Rales, bilaterally

Show students this waveform: a shorter, rounded arch found to be specific to CHF patients.

EMS1 image

It’s important for students to know that this waveform will not appear in every CHF patient, but if it is present, it will work in conjunction with other findings to confirm CHF.

Waveform Capnography Scenario 2: Curare cleft

Two paramedics have intubated a patient with full-thickness burns on 40 percent of his body via rapid-sequence intubation. EMTs are present to assist during transport to a burn center. Vital signs post-RSI are as follows:

HR: 134
BP: 84/52
RR: assisted
SpO2: 100 percent on ETT
ETCO2: 41 mmHg
LS: Clear bilaterally

Provide the students with this waveform, a clear example of curare cleft.

EMS1 image

Explain to students what is going on during each brief downward spike in the alveolar plateau of phase III. For a patient intubated via RSI, this cleft is very likely an indicator that the neuromuscular blockade is wearing off, and the patient is now trying to breathe on his own against the tube.

Make it clear that now is not the proper time for extubation, even though the patient wants to breathe on his own, and that another dose of paralytic medications is what this patient needs. Although EMT students will not be familiar or trained in giving these drugs, being able to recognize curare cleft and alerting the paramedics will greatly increase the efficacy of the intubation and help patient comfort.

Waveform Capnography Scenario 3: CPR and ROSC

Have students simulate running a code.

CPR has been in progress for 10 minutes, providers have placed an oropharyngeal airway and are ventilating with a BVM that has inline capnography, and after two defibrillation attempts, the patient is still in ventricular fibrillation.

After another round of CPR and administering a third shock, give students this capnography waveform.

EMS1 image

When a patient reaches ROSC, the CO2 that had been building up during insufficient peripheral perfusion is suddenly washed out as blood begins moving more effectively again, resulting in a sudden spike on the waveform.

Ensure that students know that if they see this spike, they should alert the rest of their crew and perform a pulse check to verify ROSC. While this condition is certainly an improvement, students should know that patients in ROSC could easily re-arrest. Patients going back into cardiac arrest will have a decline in ETCO2 that is just as significant as the original ROSC spike.

Waveform capnography is a tool that EMS providers at any level can use. Even if the intervention that the waveform demands is beyond the scope of practice of a provider, recognition of a pattern and communication with other members of the crew can be the difference for a critical patient.

About the author

Jake Mellor is a firefighter/paramedic student intern with the Town of Madison (Wis.) Fire Dept.  

Marion officer’s quick response saves a life

Marion officer’s quick response saves a life

It started out as a normal day.

Marion Police officer Nikki Hotz was sitting in her cruiser on Nov. 1 behind MercyCare Urgent Care, near Seventh Avenue and Katz Drive in Marion, catching up on some paperwork when the call came in from a woman reporting that her husband was unresponsive and possibly having a heart attack at the Marion Village mobile home park on Midway Drive.

Hotz wasn’t supposed to be working that shift, but it was lucky she was.

The mobile home park was only about a quarter mile from Hotz’s location, so she radioed that she was responding and high-tailed it to the scene.

“Because I was so close, I was the first one to arrive on the scene,” she said. “When I got there, I knocked on the door and inside I could hear the man’s wife yelling.”

When she went in, Hotz said, the man was lying on the couch in the living room. He had no pulse and was not breathing.

“At that point my training just kicked in and I started doing what I needed to do,” she said.

Hotz cleared some space and moved the man from the couch to the floor. Then she started CPR.

Within about a minute, Hotz said Marion firefighters arrived and took over compressing the man’s chest and ventilating him.

“That’s when I pulled out my knife and began cutting his clothes off so the medics could do their work,” Hotz said.


Shortly after, Hotz said an ambulance arrived and with it the Lucas Chest Compression System, a machine designed to deliver uninterrupted chest compressions at a consistent rate and pressure.

“That machine is one the biggest advantages we have in medical emergencies,” Hotz said. “It saves on fatigue for the first responders, it frees up hands to tend to the rest of the patient’s needs, and it delivers timed and properly pressured compressions to the patient.”

The man was quickly loaded into the ambulance and taken to St. Luke’s. Eventually, Hotz got word that he regained his pulse and was being treated for what was believed to be a heart attack.

“That’s when all the adrenaline faded and the emotions kicked in,” Hotz said. “I had never had to perform CPR on someone before, and I really wanted him to be OK. Afterwards, I just went back to my car and prayed for him to recover and cried.”

The man did recover and Hotz was able to visit with him at his home on Thanksgiving.

“He’s amazing,” she said. “He’s a bit of a jokester, he’s got a great sense of humor, and he’s eager to get back to living his life.”

Looking back on her experience, Hotz said she is grateful she was able to help the man, but she didn’t do it alone.

“It was a total team effort,” she said. “So many people had a hand in saving him. From his wife calling 911 to the dispatcher getting that information out quickly so I and fire and EMS were able to get there as fast as we did. The Marion Fire Department, the paramedics with Area Ambulance, the doctors and nurses at the hospital, we all worked together to help him.”

Last week, during a Marion City Council meeting, Hotz was awarded the Lifesaving Award for her part in saving the man.


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Marion Police Chief Joseph McHale said the award was given in recognition of Hotz’s ability to respond under pressure and do what needed to be done.

“It’s important to recognize the efforts of our officers,” McHale said. “It reinforces the behavior and the officer’s response, and it’s our way of recognizing that officer for their courage and their ability to respond and act in stressful situations.”

Officer Hotz has been with the police department for about five years, McHale said. She is currently assigned as a patrol officer and was recently assigned as the department’s bomb tech.

“She is energetic and passionate about the work we do,” he said. “She’s a patrol officer now, but I see the potential for leadership in her future. She is dedicated to the agency and the job, and she does a really good job for us.”

For Hotz, Nov. 1 was a culmination of all her training — from the baby sitter CPR class she took as a teenager, to her military training to her training as an officer — all of which came back to her in that moment.

“The most rewarding award is knowing that I was part of this effort to help bring this man back and get him back to his family in time for the holidays,” she said. “As first responders — whether you’re police or fire or EMS or a dispatcher — all of us want to save a life. We all go to these calls, and we see more losses than saves. I’m just grateful this one was a save.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Man in critical condition after being struck by Md. ambulance

Man in critical condition after being struck by Md. ambulance

By EMS1 Staff

GARRISON, Md. — A man is in critical condition after he was struck by an ambulance Wednesday, according to police.

WBAL TV reported that a Baltimore County Fire Department ambulance was on its way back to the station after transporting a patient when the man was hit.

Officials said the EMT and paramedic who were inside the ambulance immediately began treating the man, and they also called for additional help, as well as police.

“They worked aggressively on him. Our fire department surgeon happened to be in the area and responded to this call, and was extremely impressed with the care they provided under duress. This is a very difficult call for them — we’re in the business of saving lives. So something like this is an extremely stressful event,” BCFD spokesperson Elise Armacost said.

The man was airlifted to the hospital in critical, but stable condition.

The crash is currently under investigation.


SD city officials consider writing off $1.7M in unpaid ambulance bills

SD city officials consider writing off $1.7M in unpaid ambulance bills

By EMS1 Staff

RAPID CITY, S.D. — City officials are considering writing off $1.7 million in unpaid ambulance bills.

Rapid City Journal reported that Rapid City’s Legal and Finance Committee is considering a resolution to write off 2,676 unpaid ambulance bills that date back as far as 2006.

Rapid City’s Legal and Finance Committee is considering a resolution to write off 2,676 unpaid ambulance bills that date back as far as 2006. (Photo/RCFD)
Rapid City’s Legal and Finance Committee is considering a resolution to write off 2,676 unpaid ambulance bills that date back as far as 2006. (Photo/RCFD)

Around 98 percent of the bills are either past the six-year statute of limitations or are uncollectible because the person has died without an estate.

Rapid City Fire Department officials said they have “attempted everything” to collect the funds.

“It’s certainly not for a lack of trying,” Chief Rod Seals said.

EMS Chief Jason Culberson said the department sends out around 10,000 bills a year.

“We’ve attempted everything, including sending it to one of the credit-collection companies,” he said. “We try everything.”

The city budget labels the ambulance service as an “enterprise fund” and receives funding from fees paid for the service.

Seals said the city does not use property taxes to fund the ambulance service like surrounding areas do, because the high call volume has historically provided enough funds to avoid doing so. However, he said it’s unclear how sustainable the model will be in the future.

“All we try to do is to break even,” Seals said. “[But] the cost of providing the service is rising faster than the reimbursements are. We are certainly not the only ones in this situation. It’s affecting all ambulance providers across the nation.”

Mayor Steve Allender said other cities are experiencing the same issue.

“Everyone we talk to is having the same problem with ambulances and people are starting to worry about the sustainability of public ambulances,” he said.

Culberson added that Medicare and Medicaid regulation increases, as well as reimbursement cuts from the Indian Health Service, have hurt the department’s bottom line.

“We’ve been seeing an alarming trend and we’re not the only ones seeing it,” he said.