PITTSBURGH, PA--For the second year in a row, Greater Pittsburgh firefighters and Johnstown, PA firefighters will be "facing off" against sudden cardiac arrest with one goal in mind—to save lives by raising awareness and educating through the work of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. The second annual Steel City Fire on Ice Charity Classic will take place during National CPR-AED Awareness Week on Saturday, June 3rd, at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The faceoff will take place at 7:00 pm.
“Not only do we, as first responders, see the effects of cardiac arrest in our communities first hand, cardiac-related deaths are the number one killer in the fire service,” said Nick Gerstel, a North Strabane and Penn Hills firefighter. “When we saw the work that the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation was doing to raise awareness and save lives, we had to get behind them, and what better way than through some friendly competition!”
Gerstel was off-duty and visiting with his family when he saved the life of Penn Hills resident Mike Dulaney on Christmas, 2012. He is organizing the event along with Dennis Dunmire, Moon Run VFC firefighter, and Glen Eger, North Strabane and Presto firefighter.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood, without warning. It affects about 1,000 people each day in the U.S., including many young people and athletes. Unfortunately, only 11 percent of victims survive. Those who do pull through invariably received immediate treatment with CPR and a defibrillator. Incidence and survival rates in Pittsburgh reflect the national average. Fortunately, there is a slowly growing community of cardiac arrest victims who did survive, thanks to immediate bystander action with CPR and automated external defibrillators, effective EMS response, and state-of-the-art hospital care.
Bruce Benda is one of them. He was attending an event in Ligonier, PA, with colleagues and customers in 2014 when, in his words, 'I had the sensation of being sucked into the earth.' That is when he lost consciousness and Rich Mallory, a colleague at Covestro-Bayer, where Bruce is the director of market development, used his CPR skills to keep his friend alive. He and a Covestro customer, Jim Glattly, alternately applied the procedure for 15 minutes until paramedics arrived with a defibrillator. Bruce will be sharing his story during the game. Like many SCA victims, Bruce had no warning. Before his cardiac arrest, he was training for his eighth marathon and said he ‘felt great.’
“We are honored that Greater Pittsburgh and Johnstown firefighters will be competing once again this year in an effort to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and help save lives,” said Mary Newman, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. “We commend them for the work they do every day to save lives in their communities.”
Tickets cost $10 and will be sold at the door. Admission for kids is free. Tickets for raffle prizes will also be available at the door. For information, contact ngerstel [at] gmail.com (Nick Gerstel).
See photos from the 2017 Fire on Ice game on our Facebook page.