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Media Release

Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Citizen’s Service Awards

Release Date: February 26, 2018

Contact Information:
Tom Bouthillet email icon , EMS Battalion Chief, 843-682-5160
Brad Tadlock , Fire Chief, 843-682-5153

On Saturday, February 24, Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue was honored to recognize Mrs. Rosemary Fisher, Dr. Justin Vader, and Mr. Mike Breen with the Citizen’s Service Award for their efforts in performing bystander CPR on two of our cardiac arrest survivors in 2017. The recognition was part of the Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue Annual Awards and Advancement Ceremony.


Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue responds to about 50 "workable" cardiac arrests a year. In about 25 of those the collapse is "witnessed" by a bystander, and in about 15 of them, the initial heart rhythm is "shockable" (ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia). According to the academic template used to measure cardiac arrest survival (Utstein template), the number of these patients who survive to hospital discharge determines a community’s cardiac arrest save rate.

In 2017 Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue responded to 16 witnessed/shockable cardiac arrests and 11 survived to hospital with a CPC score of 1 or 2 (which means they were neurologically intact at the time of discharge the hospital). That puts Hilton Head Island’s survival rate at 68.75% for the year -- one of the highest in the nation.  Pictured: Rosemary Fisher, Ronald Reutzel, Ed Cheeseman, M.D., and Mike Breen (Photo Credit: Willie J. Rice)

Cardiac Arrest Survivor Mr. Ronald Reutzel

On July 4, 2017 while participating in the Firecracker 5K and Family Fun Walk, Mr. 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 Mr. 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, Mr. 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."

Cardiac Arrest Survivor Ed Cheeseman, M.D.

On October 20, 2017 Mr. Mike Breen and his wife Mrs. Sally Breen 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, Mike 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 - Captain 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