SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The South Kingstown Town Council has honored a veteran firefighter’s quick action and years of training, which he put to use while responding to a serious medical call in April.
The council gave a proclamation to South Kingstown Union Fire District Assistant Chief Lance E. Whaley at its meeting on Tuesday.
It was Whaley who initially answered the call of a dispatcher who reported on April 4 that a man was unresponsive in a truck on the ramp leading to the northbound lanes of Route 1 on Salt Pond Road.
Whaley arrived at the vehicle, and saw that the man was in the front seat and unresponsive. He called dispatch to relay critical information and determined that the man had no pulse and was not breathing.
Whaley then removed the man from the vehicle and put him on nearby grass. He performed CPR and used an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, on the man until South Kingstown Emergency Medical Services paramedics arrived.
Within minutes, the man’s circulation had returned, and he was taken to South County Hospital.
“Assistant Chief Whaley’s rapid intervention, including providing immediate skillful CPR and delivery of defibrillation from the AED, were critical links in the chain of survival which were instrumental to the positive outcome of this case,” the proclamation said.
Wearing his dress uniform, Whaley accepted the council’s proclamation Tuesday night.
“I just performed a small part of saving this man’s life,” Whaley said. “The EMS division, police and district all came together and came out with a very successful save. But I just did a little bit. Just doing my job.”
He also received a commendation from Union Fire District Chief Steven Pinch.
“People of the town are very fortunate to have Lance,” Pinch said. “He’s always at the right place at the right time.”
Pinch said the April 4 incident was an exceptional one, but that Whaley handles similar cases on a daily basis.
“We’re all proud of his accomplishments and appreciate what he does every day,” he said. He also read part of an e-mail from the man’s wife thanking Whaley and the department for its life-saving actions.
Whaley has 33 years of experience in the fire service, starting as a member of the Forest Fire Department. In 1996 Whaley was elected captain of his station. In 2014 he was appointed deputy chief by the Board of Wardens. He is the special operations and communications officer for the district.
Council Vice President Bryant Da Cruz called the volunteers of the Union Fire District, which includes eight stations throughout town, an integral part of South Kingstown.
“There’s a lot of volunteers that don’t get credit, not that they’re looking for credit, but I think should be shown more appreciation,” he said.
Da Cruz also took a first aid and CPR class more than once from Whaley.
“He does a great job, and if more people would get involved with the fire district or the CPR classes, which are open to the public, it would be good for the entire community.”