All Members of Unit Hold Life Saving and First Aid Certificates — Have Rendered Incalculable Assistance Since Organization

TWO lives saved within 48 hours just a few weeks ago, five lives saved since January 1, 1930, and 18 lives saved in the past five years since the first aid work was started, is the record of the Centralia, Wash., fire department, which numbers only eight full time members. Five men compose the two squads, Fire Chief Ted R. Patton being the third member of both squads.

Five years ago, a Woman’s Club “movement” purchased a lungmotor that soon became dust covered in the city hall from lack of use and improper care. The fire department took charge of the lungmotor, started a study of first aid methods, and today, as result of regular weekly drills in every kind of first aid and life saving work, ranks among the most efficient squads in the State of Washington. The reputation earned for success in restoring life to accident victims, brings in calls from lake and swimming resorts, from fishing streams, from logging camps, from farms, nearby cities, hospitals, and all parts of the city. The firemen have worked over victims of smoke, high voltage electrical shock, drowning, asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning, aiding in serious operations at hospitals, saving lives of babies prematurely born, and persons victims of alcoholic poisoning.

Chief Patton says that every case is different, and only constant training and regular weekly drill has enabled them to become sufficiently’ expert to meet the great variety of emergency cases.

The squad members all hold U. S. Bureau of Mines life saving and first aid certificates from special training courses. The equipment gradually accumulated as their work grew consists of an H. H. Inhalator, with which they use CO2 consisting of 95 per cent oxygen, and 5 per cent carbon dioxide that is used principally in cases of smoke, electric shock and all cases of asphyxiation; a lungmotor, used with prematurely born babies and other cases where respiration must be forced: first aid kits: lines, grappling hooks, and drags for cases of drowning. The equipment is usually tossed in Chief Patton’s roadster, which boasts a “rumble” seat for the extra man and the equipment.

An Explanation of How the Work is Done Chief T. R. Patton of Centralia, Wash., explaining the operation of an inhalator to two men whose lives were saved by the department within two days of each other.

Photo by K. Billie Wilcox

A few stories of life saving work were dragged out of Chief Patton the other day. A woman seriously ill with quinzy and Bright’s disease was given up as hopeless by the doctors in charge. She was in a town some twenty miles northwest of here. Though skeptical, but without any other hope available, they finally called upon the firemen for help. With their lungmotor and resuscitation methods, the tremendously difficult breathing of the patient was relieved. Seven times from her home enroute to the hospital the oxygen treatment was administered. With that beginning and subsequent treatments shortly later the woman was saved, and today is normal.

A call during a terrific rain storm took two of the crew ten miles up into the wilderness of a logging works. A logger working near a high voltage line of 1100 volts had been a victim of shock and suffered many bad electrictiy burns around his legs. He was far from the city, far away from main traveled highways, far into the heavy timber, and, more than that, up a steep hillside. Patton and his aide, now’ Assistant Chief W. J. Ryckman, found the man, treated his burns, bandaged them, made a stretcher of their coats, and carried him down the hill. He was treated with the inhalator. So severe was the shocks that the victim remained in the hospital six months, but finally recovered and is at work again today.

A prematurely-born babe arrived at a local hospital. The little lad’s heart was on his right side, his lungs almost dried up, and death seemed certain. Doctors called in the fire department squad. Six days of artificial breathing with the lungmotor, with X-ray examinations taken every day to show progress, gradually restored life. On the fourth day the heart went over to the left side, and on the sixth day the lung filled out and started functioning properly. The boy lived and is a young lad today.

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