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MFD: Paramedic bitten by dog as she helps revive heroin user

MADISON, Wis. - A paramedic received stitches Tuesday afternoon after an unconscious man's dog bit her as she helped try to revive him on Madison' south side, fire officials said.

The Madison Fire Department said firefighters and paramedics responded to a report of an unconscious person in the basement of a home in the University Hill Farms-area neighborhood at 2:07 p.m.

When crews arrived, they saw evidence to suggest the man was overdosing on drugs, according to the report. A bystander informed emergency responders that the man had just returned from an addiction assistance meeting.

The patient's dog was resting on his chest when paramedics approached to administer emergency medical care, the fire department said. The dog growled, barked and lunged at a paramedic Fiona Thompson before biting her on the hand.

"When people are in panic, dogs protect them," Thompson said. "All that this dog was trying to do was protect its owner. Unfortunately, the owner needed our help, so no hard feelings toward this dog at all. That's just the way dogs are."

The crew was able to shoo the dog out of the room so they could focus on the patient.

The man was not breathing and had no pulse, fire officials said. Paramedics lowered him to the ground and began chest compressions. The man was intubated and given oxygen as chest compressions continued. Narcan and epinephrine were also administered, but his condition did not immediately improve.

Fire department spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster said that after about eight minutes, paramedics noted the return of a pulse. Eventually, the man needed to be lifted upstairs to be taken to the ambulance. A narrow staircase and a large amount of personal belongings stacked on the first floor presented some obstacles. Paramedics were able to get the patient to the ambulance and on to the hospital.

By the time the patient arrived at the emergency room, he had a strong, regular pulse but remained unresponsive, the report said.

The fire department said the man had taken heroin but was revived.

Hospital staff also treated the paramedic who had been bitten by the patient's dog and stitched up the small laceration on her hand.

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