To the editor:
On April 16, 2014, Firefighter (Honorary) Andrew D. Peckham passed away after a long battle with muscular dystrophy. Drew will be long remembered here at Portsmouth Fire Department not because of his disease, but for the life he lived despite his disease. Drew’s character and bravery continues to be an inspiration for the department’s responders.
Behind most great people are great parents; this is absolutely the case with the Peckhams. Despite dealing with the loss of their son and despite suffering unmeasurable grief, Dwayne and Patricia had the grace and compassion to think of others. The Peckhams suggested that those wishing to honor Drew’s memory should make donations to Muscular Dystrophy Association of Rhode Island or the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department.
The donations made to the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department in Drew’s memory were numerous. Those that donated should be proud to know that their donated money made the purchase of life-saving medical equipment possible. The department had identified a video laryngoscope as a vital and much needed piece of equipment. The amount of donated money was such that the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department was able to equip both of the town’s ambulances with the video laryngoscope devices.
Endotracheal intubation is a medical procedure in which a tube is placed into the windpipe or trachea of a patient through their mouth. EMTs can then oxygenate a patient who is unable to breath, potentially saving their life. This procedure can be challenging, even in the pristine conditions of a hospital; our responders have performed this skill inside wrecked motor vehicles, on the decks of moving boats, on the cramped floors of small rooms and even in the back of the ambulances as they bounce down the road.
The video laryngoscope is a device that is inserted into the patient’s airway; EMTs are able to view the patient’s airway on an LCD screen and place the tube in its proper location with greater ease. Studies have indicated that use of a video laryngoscope dramatically increases the likely hood of a successful field intubation.
It is absolutely certain that these devices will someday make the difference between life and death for a patient in our care. It is the sincere hope of our responders that Drew’s parents are able to find some measure of comfort knowing that lives will be saved because of equipment purchased in memory of Drew. I am certain the Drew would be proud to know that he has once again made a difference in our lives.
Michael P. O’Brien
Portsmouth Fire Department