Firefighters make vital donation to Care First


By Dana Delgado

The Liberty Hill Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 4744 and the Care First Walk-in Clinic share a common bond – the care and safety of the public. Last week, that bond grew a lot stronger and has turned into a genuine partnership.

After hearing that the locally owned walk-in clinic was seeking additional resources to enhance its delivery of services, the Fire Fighters Association unanimously approved the purchase and donation of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm and if necessary, delivers an electrical shock, known as defibrillation, which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

A host of firefighters joined their association president April 26 for an informal ceremony at the clinic as the AED was officially donated and accepted.

“We’re really excited,” said Kaela Thurman who is owner of the walk-in clinic along with her husband, Jason Thurman, who is currently a firefighter in Leander. “Being locally owned, we would not have been able to purchase one for some time. We are so thankful and look forward to keeping a good relationship with them.”

Fire Fighters Association Local 4744 President J.J. Kondoff said that association members were delighted to be able to help the clinic.

“We are always looking for ways to help the community,” said Kondoff. “This is our first medical type donation, but have made monetary donations to families around the Christmas holidays. We have also participated in toy drives, food drives, and National Night Out but are always looking for new projects.”

Upcoming projects for the association include participating in a charity fishing tournament, a charity golf tournament, and spearhead their annual “Fill the Boot” campaign to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The AED donated is a ZOLL Automated External Defibrillator Plus. According to the manufacturer, the AED Plus is a top of the line piece of equipment, designed to assist in saving the life of a person suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), whether they require a shock or not and provides audio and visual prompts unmatched by any other automated external defibrillator (AED). In addition to the AED, a secure cabinet was provided by the Fire Fighters Association.

“As an emergency room nurse and nurse practitioner, I have seen AEDs used with success countless times,” said Kaela Thurman. “On rare occasion with certain cardiac arrhythmias, I have seen unresponsive patients defibrillated and immediately become alert and talking. Fortunately, in our six months of business (with the walk-in clinic), we have not needed an AED, just yet.”

“When it comes to the heart, time is of the essence and reduces damage to the brain,” said Jason Thurman.  

The American Red Cross reports that for each minute defibrillation is delayed during sudden cardiac arrest, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10 percent. For that reason, the Red Cross believes that all Americans should be within four minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. which can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and at any age. In addition, the American Heart Association notes that SCA does not give warning symptoms like a traditional heart attack. The heart goes into an unstable rhythm called ventricular fibrillation and the heart stops beating effectively and the person becomes unconscious. An AED is the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest.

“As the clinic grows we would like to expand services to include on site radiology/x-rays for the community along with more orthopedic supplies,” said Kaela Thurman. “Care First is so thankful for this donation from the Liberty Hill Professional Fire Fighters Association and all of the support we have received from the community.” 

The walk-in clinic was officially opened on Nov. 7, 2017, by the Thurmans who possess extensive experience in the medical field. Kaela Thurman, with a Master of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., has experience as a Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Room, Urgent Care and Primary Care and served as a Nursing Supervisor and Nursing Educator at a Level II Trauma Center. Jason Thurman has been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for 16 years, worked at a local emergency room as patient care technician, and is currently a professional firefighter with over 15 years in fire service.

Located at 12701 W. State Highway 29 Suite 5 in Liberty Hill, Care First Walk-in Clinic treats minor illnesses and injuries for individuals 12 months and older but also provides preventive health care including employment and sports physicals and well-woman exams. For a variety of patients, they are also a great option for primary care as well.