Valley Professional Fire Fighters - IAFF Local 1352 Stories
Screening Save Young Lives: Fire Fighters Partner with Nick of Time Foundation
King | 04/17/17
“Every three days, a kid in the United States dies of sudden cardiac arrest because of heart conditions that go undetected”, says Valley Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Bill Mack. “Simple screenings can help identify risk factors and save lives.” That’s why union fire fighters volunteer their time and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters (WSCFF) Benevolent Fund has committed financial resources to partner with the Nick of Time Foundation. Founded in memory of student athlete Nick Varrenti, the foundation facilitates youth heart screenings at local high schools, provides resources for automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and teaches students how to perform CPR and to use AEDs.
On a recent spring day, Mack, who also serves as WSCFF 8th District Representative, and a group of King County firefighters joined with 111 volunteers to screen and train 293 students at Kentwood High School in Covington, Washington. Three of the students screened were referred for follow up care. Since its inception in 2006, the foundation has screened more than 17,500 students and identified 480 for medical follow up. Nick Varrenti’s mom, Darla, serves as Executive Director for the Nick of Time Foundation. “Finding these kids,” she says “is what this is all about.”
Nick Varrenti suffered from an undetected heart condition called hypertrophic cardio myopathy. On Labor Day weekend in 2004, following a week of high school football practice, Varrenti suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and died. In most cases of sudden cardiac arrest, abnormalities are not detected, there are no warning signs, and unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within minutes, death is the end result. Sadly the first warning sign, cardiac arrest, is fatal. The Nick of Time Foundation utilizes fire fighters, doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to provide simple screening. When risk factors are identified, students and their parents are referred to medical professionals for follow up. “I don’t ever want a death like this to happen again,” says Mack, “I know we can’t reduce the number to zero, but I am convinced that this work saves lives.”