People of Ellendale: Joe Nea, Firefighter
Joe Nea and his wife, Jenise, have lived in Ellendale for the last 17 years. Here they have raised four children: Tyler (23), Sakiya (21), Carter(20), and Zoren (17).
Joe has lived in St. Louis 24 years and when he is not playing hockey (once or twice a week), traveling, camping, or hiking, he is usually exploring this great city, attending local events, and enjoying being a foodie.
And aside from also being Treasurer for the Ellendale Neighborhood Association, Joe is a firefighter. He has been with the St. Louis Fire Department for 14 years. He is currently assigned to Engine House 28.
Recently, Joe along with 12 other First Responders were recognized for their actions which ultimately saved the lives of two young boys in February 2016. This entire rescue team was one of three teams honored at the Lifesaving Foundation’s inaugural Legends & Lifesavers benefit held on September 8, 2016. The Lifesaving Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping the St. Louis Fire Department save the lives of those who live, work, and visit the city of St. Louis.
Firefighter Nea and Captain Vogt will also be receiving Liberty Mutual’s Firemark Award for their actions later this year.
Like most firefighters and First Responders, Joe is humble (and if asked will tell you he was just doing his job). Be that as it may, St. Louis is fortunate to have a force of over 900 people just doing their jobs as firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and even qualified civilians to answer the call when emergencies arise.
While “heroic” may seems like too strong of a description to these selfless caregivers, we as friends and neighbors can still be proud of Joe and others for their service to the community.
Click here to read the recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch feature.
Click here to see the Fox 2 News interview from February.
To recap, on February 11, 2016, a call was received around 5:00 p.m. reporting a fire in an apartment building in the 800 block of Clara Avenue, with people possibly trapped inside.
Three crews were dispatched to the scene. Joe was on the second crew to arrive at the scene. Fire Captain Rick Vogt, who was on the first crew to arrive, had already entered the building, forced open the door to the apartment, and retrieved one of the boys.
As Vogt carried the first boy outside to medical attention, Joe was entering the building and he long with other firefighters from Engine House 28 entered the apartment to look for the second boy. Joe told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “If I had gone left instead of right, someone else would have found the boy.”
But it was Joe who found him between a mattress and wall in a small bedroom. He was unconscious and Joe took the boy into the hallway less filled with smoke to check for breathing and saw the boy’s eyes start to flutter a bit. Joe then took him out of the building for further medical care.
However, the rescue story doesn’t stop once the firefighters pulled the boys from the burning apartment.
When Paramedic Patricia Reece and Firefighter Andre Hopgood arrived at the scene they saw Vogt and Joe running toward their unit, each with a child in their arms. Both boys were ventilated with a bag until an additional unit arrived moments later.
At that point Paramedic Crew Chief Andrew Phifer and Paramedic Phillip McLean attended to the two-year-old in respiratory failure, covered heavily in soot from head-to-toe. The boy had no obvious burns, but he was limp and unresponsive. After given oxygen and blood-oxygen levels improved, eye movement and blinking began. The boy’s jaw was clenched so they were unable to intubate.
Meanwhile, Reece and Hopgood attended the five-year-old who was breathing six times per minute on his own, also covered in soot, but with no obvious signs of burns. The boy’s teeth were clenched and they were unable to provide suction or intubate.
Both boys were transported to Children’s Hospital where over the following two weeks their serious conditions steadily improved.
From equipment and EMS Dispatchers to Firefighters and Paramedics, all of these lifesavers are recognized for the rescue and resuscitation of the two boys from their burning apartment in February.
Sr. Equipment Dispatcher, LaWanda Rauss; Equipment Dispatcher, Rita Johnson; Equipment Dispatcher, Angela Williams; Equipment Dispatcher, Greg Dickson; Lead EMS Dispatcher, Ann Grady; EMS Dispatcher, Vanita McClendon; EMS Dispatcher, Richard Minton; Fire Captain, Rick Vogt; Firefighter, Joseph Nea (far left in picture below); Firefighter, Andre Hopgood; Paramedic Crew Chief, Andrew Phifer; Paramedic, Patricia Reece; and Paramedic, Phillip McClean. (some team members not shown in photograph)
The St. Louis Fire Department
St. Louis has one of the top-ranked fire departments across the country. A division of the St. Louis Department of Public Safety, the St. Louis Fire Department protects 62 square miles and about 319,000 full-time residents (with a daytime population approaching 1,000,000). It employs about 900 personnel including firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and civilians.
Firefighters respond from 30 Engine Houses throughout the City, organized into six districts. The StLFD also provides structural fire protection, emergency medical services, rescue response, and aircraft rescue firefighting from two fire stations located at Lambert Airport.
Continuously striving to uphold their motto — Justifiably Proud — the Fire Department is comprised of many bureaus.
The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services comprises the City's ambulance service — EMS services were merged into the Fire Department in 1997 and have achieved the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Level Recognition Award for the last two years.
The Bureau of Prevention is the division within the Fire Department that works on fire prevention including code enforcement, fire investigation, health & wellness, and public education.
The Fire Department Communications Bureau dispatches appropriate equipment to emergency calls.
The Bureau of Fire Department Support Services maintains the Fire Department rolling stock, deploys Mobile Command Posts and special support materials when needed, and also maintains and distributes all non-emergency supplies to all 30 firehouses.
The Fire Inspections Bureau performs fire inspections.
The Fire Investigation Bureau investigates fires of suspicious origin.
The Fire Suppression Bureau comprises the available personnel and fire suppression apparatus that are dispatched and serve during emergencies.
Each apparatus in the fire department is equipped with basic life support equipment, including automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). All firefighters in the St. Louis Fire Department are medically certified or licensed as First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), or Paramedics. An engine company is dispatched on all life-threatening calls and will arrive generally in less than four minutes.
All firefighters are trained in the latest fire suppression techniques, hazardous material recognition, medical first response, and basic rescue techniques. A firefighter's base of knowledge must cover the areas of building construction, hydraulics, medical treatment, fire sprinkler design, safe driving practices and vehicle extrication techniques. Each one of these areas is continually changing and new training keeps him/her abreast of changes in these areas.
Joe explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Being well-trained and being with a crew that you’ve worked with for a while, you’re not worried about what the guy next to you is doing because you know he’s doing his job.”
Founded on September 14, 1857, the St. Louis Fire Department is the nation’s second oldest career fire department. Next year will mark StLFD’s 160th year of service.
To learn more about the St. Louis Fire Department, visit their page on the St. Louis City website.
When placing a call for emergency assistance…
Callers should remain calm, speak clearly, and be prepared to answer very specific questions.
Callers will be asked the location of the emergency, the nature of the emergency, the telephone number they are calling from, and any additional vital information relative to the incident.
Questions are very necessary and information gathered is relayed to Emergency Responders.
Often while one Dispatcher is speaking with the caller, another Dispatcher is dispatching Emergency Responders for assistance.
The more information a Dispatcher obtains the better prepared the Responders are when they arrive on the scene.
Duties of the Emergency Dispatcher are varied and are not limited to answering phones and sending Emergency Responders. EMS Dispatchers screen calls objectively using a nationally standardized method known as the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS). In many cases, the EMS Dispatcher will provide the caller with “pre-arrival instructions,” depending upon the medical emergency. They also maintain records as well as monitor the status of all responding equipment while preparing for the next emergency. Dispatchers are trained to perform during very stressful situations and must learn and follow many Standard Operating Guidelines.
Organizations like Lifesaving Foundation help to ensure that emergency equipment is available and replenished and that the City’s First Responders are highly trained.
Co-founded by Curt Engler and Ned Fryer more than a dozen years ago, the Lifesaving Foundation’s mission is to promote saving lives of those who live, work, and visit the City of St.Louis; and protect lives of lifesavers as they carry out their duties.
Since its inception, the Foundation has provided AEDs to the St. Louis Fire Department, created a public access to defibrillation program, provided bail-out harnesses to firefighters to prevent injury from falls when escaping a burning building, provided new 12-lead defibrillators with telemetry capability, and launched a Simulation Center to train StLFD EMS personnel.
While they continually raise funds to update equipment in emergency vehicles, the SIM Center is the Foundation’s largest initiative.
“The training priorities of the SIM Center are set by transport data,” said Becky Davis, Lifesaving Foundation’s Executive Director. “Instructional focus shifts depending on the current need for training.”
For example, the creation of the SIM Center was based on data calculating 62% of base skills are lost within the first two years after initial training ends. Trauma (of any type — from falls to injuries due to violence) results in the greatest number of child deaths and 3,000 children per year are transported to acute care facilities in St. Louis. Initial training at the SIM Center (in 2014) focused on pediatric education due to the elevated fear factor when treating children.
Later in 2014, training focus realigned to pediatric intubations. Training through the SIM Center can be credited to a 27% increase in successful intubations.
In 2015, transport data indicated more children were being transported to acute facilities for breathing problems and asthma. Severe asthma conditions can lead to cardiac arrest. The older AED units were not adequate to be successfully used on children in cardiac arrest so a need to replace the AED units realigned the SIM Centers education focus as well as drove more aggressive fund raising efforts to replace the aging equipment.
The Lifesaving Foundation supported over 600 training hours in 2104 and 2015 by StLFD.
StLFD First Responders are receiving first priority in scheduling training sessions, and soon, area agencies will receive opportunities to train Paramedics and EMTs throughout the metropolitan area.
If you know an Ellendale resident you think should be highlighted in the People of Ellendale series, please contact the ENA Communications Officer for more information.