Citizens’ Academy teaches life-saving methods

WISH-TV's Phil Sanchez trains at the Indianapolis Citizens' Academy. (WISH Photo)

Editor’s note: 24-Hour News 8 Anchor Phil Sanchez is taking classes as part of the Citizens’ Academy. This is one of a series of blogs about his experience.

I showed up to the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services office on the west side of Indy not knowing what we were getting ourselves into for this portion of the Citizens’ Academy.

I knew it would be different from what we’ve already done — things like sliding down fire poles and classroom work — but I didn’t realize how different.

And then I met Lt. Kelly Russ.

“A lot of people just think that it’s a 911 service only, but we have a lot of other different programs.” She said

Russ has been with IEMS for five years. She took a night off from saving lives to show us what it takes to get her job done.

Sometimes the toughest part of the job, she said, is just getting to the scene. Showing up quickly when you call 911 is an important part of the job, but so is education.

Teaching people, like those in our Citizens’ Academy class, things such as CPR and life saving drugs requires a combination of modern technology and modern medicine.

The perfect example is Narcan, a drug used to save a person who may have overdosed on a drug like heroin.

And on this night, I was taught how to administer it.

“You want to push fairly quickly,” one EMS worker told me as I sprayed Narcan up the nose of a fake patient.

I learned it can be given through the nose and in some cases the hip. They taught us how to inject the drug in the fake patient’s hip.

We also learned how to perform CPR.

“You want to give this person a moment to respond before you start pressing on their chest,” my instructor told me.

I then started banging on said chest and was taught how to administer chest compressions.

And I learned that sometimes no matter what IEMS does, it isn’t enough.

I asked Lt. Ruff if she ever lost anyone. She said yes, and I also asked how that affects her.

“It takes a toll,” she said. “I think being in this industry, you realize that it could happen so you prepare yourself for it. We have a great support system and great co-workers that help you de-escalate from the situation.”

And then they have to go answer more calls, more people who need help. IEMS responds to, on average, 269 calls a day.

It’s not easy, I don’t know if I can do it. I walked away from this class with a new-found respect for the guys and gals in the ambulances that are sometimes taken for granted.

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