Man be­gin­ning process to be­come para­medic col­lapses dur­ing prac­tice drill

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Isadora Vail ivail@states­; 445-3763

A man who was be­gin­ning the process to be­come a para­medic died Tues­day morn­ing dur­ing a rou­tine prac­tice drill, of­fi­cials said.

The 48-year-old man, whose name was not re­leased and who of­fi­cials said ap­peared to be in good phys­i­cal con­di­tion, alerted the para­medic he was train­ing with that he did not feel well about 9:40 a.m.

James Shamard, chief of staff for EMS, said the man was paired with an ex­pe­ri­enced para­medic and the two were push­ing a hy­draulic stretcher with a 185-pound man­nequin across some grass at a park off Pleas­ant Val­ley Road.

The man sat down, col­lapsed within a few min­utes, and other paramedics worked to re­sus­ci­tate him. He was taken to Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter Brack­en­ridge, where he was later pro­nounced dead. Of­fi­cials were try­ing late Tues­day to no­tify the man’s fam­ily.

Dr. Paul Hinchey, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of EMS, said it ap­peared the man died from sud­den car­diac ar­rest, which kills about 300,000 Amer­i­cans each year.

“Sud­den car­diac ar­rest can hap­pen when you are sit­ting down and with­out phys­i­cal ex­er­tion,” Hinchey said. “He had other paramedics work­ing on him when he col­lapsed, and de­spite our best ef­forts, he died later at the hos­pi­tal.”

The man was not an EMS cadet, of­fi­cials said, but was prac­tic­ing part of the phys­i­cal test.

“The EMS (exam) is not as la­bor-in­ten­sive as a fire­fighter’s would be, and most of our gear is fairly light­weight,” Shamard said. “I wouldn’t de­scribe our train­ing or test as in­tensely aer­o­bic.”

He said the po­ten­tial cadet was on his first day of prac­tice and was at the first of seven sta­tions in­volved in the EMS test. The man had al­ready com­pleted an ori­en­ta­tion and 12-hour ride-along with EMS.

Ernesto Ro­driguez, EMS chief, said there is not a cut­off age to be­come a para­medic as long as all the phys­i­cal tests are com­pleted.

“This was very early in the hir­ing process stages,” Ro­driguez said. “Tues­day was just a prac­tice of our test.”

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