As a rescue unit, there is never a routine call. On Feb. 28, the St. Bonifacius Fire Department responded to an incident involving a 4 month old girl who was having difficulty breathing at Faith Village on the Crown College Campus. Unknown members of the department, this call was far from what it seemed as 9-1-1 Dispatcher Wendy Rohwer coached the father, Chris Flores, in CPR.
“We arrived shortly after Ridgeview Ambulance Paramedics Pat Lorentz and Joel Partridge,” recalled Shane Weber, chief of the St. Bonifacius Fire Department, who said at that point, the child was in full arrest.
“As first responders, we are trained to assist the paramedics in all basic life support functions, and we took over CPR and airway management,” Weber said. “After two defibrillation shocks to the child, the decision was made to transport to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, with one medic and two firefighters, Captain Jamie Burton and Captain Erik Klevannn riding along in the back of the ambulance.”
Weber said that the child was too small for the stretcher and had to be held for the entire journey, a task completed by Burton. Weber said, in the words of the medics, “it was the longest 33 miles ever.”
“We arrived at Children’s Hospital and handed over to the professional staff and it was soon apparent that the child was in trouble,” Weber continued. “It was later discovered that a tumor on the heart had caused this arrest and open heart surgery was to be performed.”
The good news? Everything turned out okay and on April 24, the first responders involved in the call were invited to be guests of honor at the Ridgeview Medical Center Foundation Donors Appreciation Dinner in Excelsior to meet the family of Morel Flores for the first time since the call.
“Morel recovered with amazing speed and was healthy and happy throughout the event with no long term effects,” said Weber, who reported that the 9-1-1 dispatch tape was played. “It was apparent that Wendy had done an astonishing job assisting Chris with CPR. Her professional and calm manner made the difference and gave us as first responders a fighting chance. There was not a sound in the room and many tears flowed.”
Weber said it is unusual to follow up with a patient after an event but meeting Morel and her parents, Chris and mother Rachel, and getting to hold Morel and play with her was “an exceptional experience.”
“The collaboration between Ridgeview Medical Center Ambulance and Dispatch Center and the St. Bonifacius Fire Department is a true testament to the professional, well-trained responders who serve our community,” Weber said.