On Feb. 24, Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue was honored to recognize Rosemary Fisher, Dr. Justin Vader, and Mike Breen with the Citizen’s Service Award for their efforts in performing bystander CPR on two cardiac arrest survivors in 2017.

The recognition was part of the Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Annual Awards and Advancement Ceremony.

On July 4, 2017, while participating in the Firecracker 5K and Family Fun Walk, Ronald Reutzel experienced cardiac arrest and collapsed. Two fellow participants in the race, nurse practitioner Rosemary Fisher and cardiologist Justin Vader, M.D., performed bystander CPR on Reutzel until Fire Rescue crews arrived on scene.

“They must have done a fine job,” said EMS Battalion Chief Tom Bouthillet, “because Mr. Reutzel regained consciousness very quickly after paramedics re-started his heart.”

Rosemary Fisher remarked that her father once experienced a life-threatening emergency during a race and she was sorry she never got the chance to thank the individual who assisted him. Now she feels like she has paid it forward.

For his part, Reutzel feels that she was his guardian angel that day. “My mother’s name was Rosemary and that’s not a very common first name,” he said.

On Oct. 20, 2017, Mike Breen and his wife Sally had just arrived on Hilton Head Island when, from his balcony at Marriott SurfWatch, Mike witnessed Dr. Ed Cheeseman collapse on the boardwalk below. He immediately relocated to Dr. Cheeseman’s side and performed CPR until Fire Rescue arrived on scene to take over care.

Afterwards, Breen consented to be interviewed about his experience, leading to important insights into the effects of agonal gasping on bystander decision-making. The video is now being used at CPR University at the University of Arizona College of Medicine to educate medical professionals from all over the world.

In addition, Fire Rescue recognized the following individuals with department awards:

  • Officer of the Year: Capt. Jason Walters
  • Firefighter of the Year: Fire Apparatus Operator Robert Pinelli
  • EMT of the Year: Firefighter-Paramedic Erich Lindemann
  • Leadership: Senior Firefighter-Paramedic Tina Sanders
  • Employee of the Year: Maintenance Supervisor Keith Tison
  • Dispatcher of the Year: Ashley McDonald
  • Letter of Commendation: Lt. Scott Sexson
  • Letter of Commendation: Senior Firefighter Robert Scott
  • Letter of Commendation: PSS Analyst Randy Marrero
  • Civic Award: Lt. Chris Savage