Late in the morning on December 19, 2015, Copter 19 had just landed at Fire Station 129 when the crew heard a call on the radio for a medical emergency on a trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. Knowing that Copter 19 was the closest helicopter, Fire Fighter Paramedic Brian Ballentine, Fire Fighter Paramedic Michael Dubron and Senior Pilot Eric Pacheco decided to respond.
The patient needing help was Matt May. He had been mountain biking when he started experiencing chest pain. When Copter 19 arrived at the scene, Ballentine began assessing May when he went into full cardiac arrest. To revive him, Ballentine shocked May once to restart his heart, while Pacheco and Dubron helped treat him and prepare him for transport.
Since time was of the essence, the crew called for a second helicopter to transport May, but the nearest one was more than 20 minutes away. Mountain bikers then stepped in and helped the first responders carry the patient uphill to Copter 19. They safely loaded him and headed to the hospital.
But when they arrived, the crew discovered that the Firehawk was too heavy to land on the facility’s helipad. Instead, Pacheco landed the helicopter in the parking lot, and Dubron quickly hailed a nearby ambulance to take May to the emergency room. At the hospital, May went into full cardiac arrest a second time. Fortunately, medical staff revived him again and he made a full recovery.
To thank the crew for all they had done, May recently paid them a visit to show his appreciation for saving his life that day.
For their quick thinking and exemplary treatment on that day, the Department had presented Dubron and Pacheco with a Unit Citation at this year’s Medal of Valor Awards ceremony in March. And recently, it was announced that Ballentine would receive the Clinical Excellence Award given by the State of California Emergency Medical Services Authority.