Award honors ambulance crew’s fast, precise work

Covington Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Boyers, left, and Firefighter/EMT Daniel Zembrodt receive the December “Door to Needle Award” from Amy Graham of the American Heart Association. Firefighter/Paramedic Jonathan Krull also received the award.


COVINGTON, Ky. - (EDITOR’S NOTE: A three-man ambulance crew with the Covington Fire Department received an award this morning from the American Heart Association. It’s best told like this:

Jonathan Krull, Brian Boyers, and Daniel Zembrodt were having a horrendous day.
It was the day after Christmas, and the morning started with the crew responding to an emergency call to find a 5-month-old child who had died. Later, they arrived at another call to find an adult who had died.
Back-to-back DOAs.
So a lot was weighing on their minds when they were called out that afternoon.
But as Zembrodt recalls, they worked quickly to identify the patient’s symptoms - among them a “droopy” face and weakness along his side - and recognize the classic signs of a stroke.
“So we pretty much packaged him up as fast as we could and got him to the hospital,” Zembrodt said, at the same time alerting St. Elizabeth hospital of their pending arrival.
The quickness and accuracy of their assessment - and the information delivered with that phone call - set in motion a flurry of preparation that reduced the time it took for the patient to get a CT scan and a life-saving dose of tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the mostly widely used drug to treat ischemic or thrombotic stroke.
In fact, with a team and equipment waiting, it took only 30 minutes from the time the patient was delivered until the crucial medicine, said Amy Graham, Quality & Systems Improvement Director for the Southwest Ohio and Kentucky regions of the American Heart Association.
That time - 30 minutes - is exactly half of the national metric for what’s called the “Door to Needle” period, Graham said.
“And that was the best time at St. Elizabeth across their systems for the whole month of December,” she said.
This morning, she presented framed certificates and pins to the Covington crew announcing them as recipients of the December “Door to Needle Award.”
Krull and Boyers are Firefighter/Paramedics. Zembrodt is a Firefighter/EMT. Zembrodt and Boyers were present to receive the award; Krull is fulfilling a military obligation.
Battalion Chief John Martin praised the crew’s response - especially given the heart-wrenching events earlier in the day.
“With the 5-month-old, that’s what struck me about that day,” Martin said. “It was the same exact crew, and they kept their heads in the game.”
Graham said the Heart Association is partnering with St. Elizabeth on the monthly award to bring attention to EMTs and paramedics who recognize that when dealing with emergency heart patients, time is the enemy.
“By the time they arrived at the hospital, they had the chain of survival already in motion at the hospital,” she said. “And that leads to a good patient outcome.”
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