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For Immediate Release
February 18, 2014

Moreno Valley College Cadet Honored
Along with Rescue Crew


Mathew Rosenberger thought he was ready for anything after successfully graduating from Moreno Valley College's Ben Clark Training Center.

That was until "the call."

A 2005 graduate of Arlington High School, Rosenberger was completing his field work -- 24 shifts with an ambulance crew and 15 shifts with Cal Fire when a distress call came in: "Unknown Medical Emergency" at a Norco car wash.

"It was a gentleman in his mid-60s," Rosenberger said. "He said nothing was wrong, but he clearly needed assistance. He reported being dizzy but said it had passed. While evaluating him, I heard a beeping sound. I thought it was a car battery, but then I noticed the hose and a machine attached to him."

"Quickly, we realized he had no heart, but a heart pump for an artificial heart."

The man told the emergency responders he'd requested to be removed from the transplant list and instead use a heart pump. However, the batteries in the artificial heart pump were failing. And that wasn't even the worst news.

"The gentleman had an extra machine with him but not the correct adapter, and he didn't have fresh batteries," Rosenberger said. "There was definitely no training for this."

The crew used FaceTime to contact the manufacturer, while simultaneously talking to Riverside Community Hospital. "It was an odd ball situation," Rosenberger said, one which required special directions from doctors.

"We transferred him to a local hospital, but the doctors had no idea how to help without the missing equipment."

That started a chain of events.

As family members began to arrive at the hospital, staff learned that the son had the correct adapter for the spare machine at his house. Meanwhile, the man's wife had a set of fresh batteries at her house. The two emergency response crews split up; the firefighters took the son home to retrieve the adapter while the ambulance crew took the wife to retrieve the spare batteries.

"Had the pump failed while we were collecting the adapter and the batteries, there would have been no way to save the person," Rosenberger said. "CPR wouldn't work since he had no heart. Time was of the essence."

The crews returned in time and the heart pump was switched out. However, doctors recommended that the patient be transferred to Cedars Sinai Hospital where he had originally received the pump. The crew transported the patient to Corona Park and a waiting Mercy Air helicopter.

"This was one of the special cases where we had to think on our toes," Rosenberger said. "It was a hair-raising experience, but we got great collaboration with all of the groups. It is rare for such things to go so well."

When last they heard, the patient had moved closer to Cedars Sinai and was doing fine, Rosenberger said. The Pre-Hospital Medical Advisory Committee  (PMAC) honored Rosenberger and the crew on January 27 for their life-saving efforts.

"The call was unique and the fire and EMS crews demonstrated great professionalism working together to save the patient's life and take care of the family," said Chris Nollette, associate professor/director, EMS/Paramedic Programs. "In my 33 years of fire and EMS I have only seen it happen once where a paramedic intern was honored with the crews for a job well done. We can take great pride that this student did well and made a difference. 

"The MVC EMS program is fortunate to have some of the best private and public professionals (fire and EMS) with whom our students can complete their training and education. This EMS cadet is representative of the quality that all the MVC CTE programs turn out each semester with the help of community partners."

Photo caption: Mathew Rosenberger pictured with Dr. Van Stralen, County Medical Director.