Summer months mean barbecues, fairs, and festivals, and the American Red Cross is there to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. In cities and towns across the country, First Aid Services Team (FAST) volunteers give support in the way of free and cost effective medical care at local community events.
The team’s busy season begins in April, as spring and summer events kickoff around the area. FAST volunteers provide a range of medical support, from the treatment of cuts and scrapes to cases of serious trauma, such as fainting, stroke, chest pain, and seizure. If advanced care is needed, members will coordinate with emergency medical professionals to ensure event attendees receive the best help available.
“We have members who are Emergency Medical Responders, Emergency Management Technicians, paramedics, nurses, doctors, and dentists,” said Chris Hitchcock, the marketing and social media lead for FAST.
However, those uninvolved in the medical profession may also volunteer, after attending a required First Aid and CPR training course.
On two occasions in past months, FAST volunteers have aided someone who had suffered cardiac arrest. At the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco this past fall, Red Cross medics performed CPR and defibrillation on a runner who had collapsed close to the finish line. They established a pulse and transported the runner to the local hospital, where doctors and staff brought the patient back to health.
Then, in February at the Black Light 5K Run in San Jose, the 12-person team of Red Cross medics responded to the call of a runner who had suffered a heart attack on the course. Volunteers Erin Owens and Crispin Read performed CPR on the patient, gaining a weak pulse before EMTs arrived to transport the runner to the hospital. Unfortunately, the patient later passed away.
“While these incidents are of course high drama and receive quite a bit of attention, the team treats over 2,500 patients each year and over 200 serious patients,” reported Matthew Stein, Administrative Chair of FAST. The team is unique in its size and scope, currently boasting more than 300 volunteer medics. They are expected to assist in upwards of 120 events this year, including the San Jose Jazz Festival, Obon Festival, Cinco de Mayo, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a member of FAST, or who would like to book FAST for an event, may contact 408-577-2176 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.