Plainfield Fire Department on life-saving streak

Plainfield Fire Chief Dave Peterson earned a prestigious title in 2009, and recently his firefighters have saved two people who were without pulse or respiration when the rescue workers arrived.

Plainfield Fire Chief Dave Peterson earned a prestigious title in 2009, and recently his firefighters have saved two people who were without pulse or respiration when the rescue workers arrived.

“I am very proud of them. These are the things that keep us going some days, the fact that we do save one.” Plainfield Fire Chief Dave Peterson was commenting on the actions of his firefighters.

A 9-1-1 call brought firefighters Jerry Burk and Brian Stevens to a home where a resident was not breathing and didn’t have a pulse. The unconscious subject couldn’t be defibrillated because he had to heart rate. The firemen administered “old-fashioned CPR” and by the time the subject arrived at the hospital was breathing and had a pulse. That was Tuesday, December 8.

That effort happened the same day the department received a letter from a woman in the state of Washington. She wanted to thank the department and share her belief that they saved her parent’s lives.

A year ago the department installed a fire detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector in their home. The CO detector sounded an alarm in the middle of the night and it turned out their furnace was leaking the deadly gas.

Peterson said a similar incident had happened at a Leisure Village home earlier this year, and an elderly couple was likely saved because of the detector.

On Thursday, December 10, Plainfield Fire responded to a medical call for help and found a 39-year-old female without pulse or respiration.

Again, because defibrillators work by changing the electronic waves of the heart, one could not be used because the heart was not beating. The firefighters began CPR and the patient responded and is now doing fine.

“This was the second save in two days for this shift,” Peterson said.

If it has been a controversial year for the department, it has also been one of such milestone events.

Earlier the department announced that Peterson had earned a recognition that very few fire chiefs ever receive. Peterson was nominated for, and received, the international professional designation of “Chief Fire Officer.”

Peterson was voted to receive this honor by the Commission on Professional Credentialing. The designation makes Chief Peterson one of only 616 Chief Fire Officers worldwide.

“This is very prestigious,” said Rebecca VerBeek, administrative assistant to the chief.

The process includes an assessment of the applicant’s education, experience, professional development, technical competencies, contributions to the profession and community involvement.

VerBeek said the process requires writing a dissertation-style document. In Peterson’s case, he wrote about innovative ways to use part time staffing. His policy has saved the township’s taxpayers about $3 million since its implementation in 2001.

Peterson is also President of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs.

Peterson has been chief of Plainfield department since 1993.

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