Not every day does a person have the opportunity to shake the hand of someone who helped save their life, but such was the case for Will Dittmar on Tuesday morning.
On March 2, the 65-year-old Canby resident was the subject of a frantic 911 call by his wife, Cindy.
Canby Police Officer Chris Scharmota and Canby Fire emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene to find him unresponsive.
Less than a month later, on March 29, he was back on his feet, at a small ceremony at the Canby Fire District headquarters on South Ivy Street, to thank Scharmota and the other emergency responders who helped save his life.
“It’s good to see you again,” he said with a chuckle. “My wife is much too young to be a widow.”
Canby Fire Paramedics Division Chief Matt Dale described the occasion as a “short event that we do when extraordinary things happen.”
“We had an extraordinary event that happened on March 2, 2022,” Dale continued. “Due to the quick actions of every one of the people here today, our patient survived that event and is here with us today.”
In addition to Scharmota, the event honored Canby Fire Captain Derrick Clark and firefighter/paramerics Josh Christenson, Josh Baretich, Keith Nichols, Scott Davis, Julio Quevedo and Jack Shunn, along with three Clackamas County 911 dispatchers: Jen, Shyla and Bethany.
Officials described the multi-agency partnership as “the chain of survival.”
“I do believe our firefighters are the best paramedics in the state,” Fire Chief Jim Davis said. “I’ve been doing this for 48 years and I can say I’m impressed with the level of service our firefighter/paramedics provide to the citizens.
“But it is also thanks to our dispatchers, who are so effective in dealing with every call and getting the right people in place. And our law enforcement partners, who are out there and tend to always be at the scene before we are.”
Canby police officers are tasked with patrolling and circulating throughout the community, and so are often closer to a medical call than Canby Fire crews, which typically respond from the fire station on South Pine.
Because of this, they, too, receive basic emergency medical training and are equipped with automatic external defibrillators for cardiac events.
“Oftentimes, law enforcement are the first on the scene,” Dale said. “With this partnership with Canby Police and C-COM, we have really raised the bar for cardiac arrest events throughout Clackamas County over the past few years.”
Dale also thanked Canby voters, who have invariably supported district bond issues and levies that have helped them acquire the most advanced and effective cardiac monitors and other equipment.
At Tuesday’s event, Davis and Police Chief Jorge Tro presented each of the officers, firefighters and dispatchers with a certificate and challenge coin, while Dittmar received a coin along with a printout of the actual defibrillator reading that restarted his heart on March 2.
“I can’t tell you how thankful we are that you’re here with us today,” Dale said.
“Thank you,” Dittmar said. “I’m indebted to each and every one of you.”
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