Wichita Fire Department May Update Training Following Firefighter Heart Attack

Sarah Myles

The Wichita Fire Department may consider changes to its training in an effort to further enhance the response to heart-related issues at the scenes of fires.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the potential changes were prompted by 54-year-old Wichita firefighter Paul Wiebe suffering cardiac arrest while in attendance at a house fire on January 1. Having worked at the scene, bringing the blaze under control, Wiebe rapidly became gravely ill. He received immediate treatment from emergency personnel on site, and is recovering well in hospital, according to Wichita Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell.

"Paul is alert, awake, happy, smiling and very, very grateful that he's still with us. Seeing him smile like that was very good news, and I suspect that he wouldn't be in the hospital much longer."

The fire that Wiebe was attending was reportedly caused by a meat smoker on an area of decking at the rear of a residential property in Northwest Wichita. Three people escaped from the blaze with their pets and without injury. Wiebe, however, is said to have fallen through the first floor of the property, and into the basement. Though he was essentially uninjured by the fall and continued to fight the flames, he collapsed with chest pains soon after the fire was brought under control.

Wiebe's collapse came just a few days after the Wichita Fire Department released information indicating an upsurge in electrical fires. Wichita Fire Department Chief Stuart Bevis explained to the situation to the local media.

"Looking over the statistics for the last month alone, that's really one of the things we're seeing are a lot of fires of that nature - the electrical system - whether it be too many things plugged into a multi-plug adapter. We've interviewed [people] and they say the breaker box tripped three times. Well, that's a warning. We need to pay attention to those warnings. Something is not working right, whether it's with the electrical box or with the devices we are plugging in."

Over the holiday season, Wichita Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell pointed out that the department had dealt with six calls in two days.

"Six over the course of this holiday is slightly unusual, but not terribly unusual."

As discussion turned to potential changes for the Wichita Fire Department in the wake of Firefighter Wiebe's heart attack, Chief Blackwell praised the personnel on the scene and issued assurances.

"The actions of our fire crews this morning were exemplary. In this case, we were extremely fortunate that they were there with him - they witnessed his going down and were able to provide really good treatment.

"We're always willing to adjust the training [of Wichita Fire Department personnel]."

"We're always willing to adjust the training [of Wichita Fire Department personnel]."

[Image via KAKE.com]

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