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Oct 17

Sterling Heights Fire Department Creates Survivor Coin Program

Posted on October 17, 2016 at 9:32 AM by Andrea Mantakounis


By Fire Chief Martin

A unique bond is forged between a patient and a first responder. Strangers are thrown together in a moment of crisis with a life on the line. Each leaves an indelible mark on the other. 
Annually, the Sterling Heights Fire Department (SHFD) responds to over 100 cardiac arrest cases. Patient survival rates improve significantly where there is early recognition of the event, prompt intervention and transport by paramedics, and cardiac treatment administered by physicians at cardiac care hospital units. 


Sterling Heights is fortunate to have personnel and resources available to ensure that cardiac patients benefit from these live-saving factors. Statistics demonstrate that cardiac patients in Sterling Heights have better odds for surviving a cardiac arrest as compared to national averages. Reports for the average survival rate for cardiac arrest in Sterling Heights for the two-year period of 2014 and 2015 is 16% compared to the national average, for the same period of time, at 10%.


Successful outcomes are very rewarding for all involved, the emotional investment forged at the time is enduring. Unfortunately, all too often first responders and patients have no contact once patient care is transferred to the primary care physician. To bridge this gap, the SHFD is initiating a Survival Coin Program. Through a small token presented by the SHFD, the bond that started under emergency conditions is sealed through a personal connection between first responder and patient celebrating a life saved.

Hawala Receives His Survivor Coin

On September 24, Erik Hakala, accompanied by his family and friends, visited Sterling Heights Fire Station 1 to meet the personnel that responded to his emergency and saved his life in December 2015. Erik was invited to the Station to meet the crews and become the fourth recipient of the Sterling Heights Fire Department Survival Coin. Shown in the above group photo, from left to right are; Nick Geisz, Sue Geisz, Jennie McFadden, Cody Dawson, Grant Attenberger, Keith Hakala, Kathy Hakala, Erik Hakala, Melissa Hakala, Michael Hakala, Firefighter Ryan Sears, Lieutenant Darryl Curtis, Lieutenant Jeff Vergauwen, Battalion Chief Mark Docherty, Firefighter Stephen Stover and Police Officer Dale Schmaltz. There were some tears shared, but they were tears of joy that such a meeting could take place.