March 26, 2009

Positivity: Clinically dead for an hour, man survives heart attack

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Winfield, Missouri:

Contrary to what many people think, most heart attacks begin slowly and, oftentimes, many people who are being affected by the attacks do not know what is going on and wait too long to get help. Minutes can save lives.

For Bob Colyer, 47, of Winfield, the prompt arrival of a Lincoln County Ambulance and its Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crew saved his life on Jan. 9, 2009.

Colyer first experienced chest pain at his home in Winfield. His wife, Sandy, said that when he came home he said that he was tired and after dinner, he complained that his legs and arms felt weird. Sandy, quickly realizing that Colyer was having a heart attack, knew that she had to get her husband to a hospital.

Before they could leave, he and Sandy had to find a babysitter for their 12-year-old daughter, Madeline. After finding someone to watch her, they drove to the hospital. While they were en route to the hospital, Sandy said that Colyer kept asking her to “slow down and not to speed.” However, Colyer soon became unresponsive while in the car. “His mouth was wide open and his glasses fell off,” described Sandy.

“Basically he coded in the car- he went into cardiac arrest,” said Mike Dach, director of Emergency Department Services at Lincoln County Medical Center.

Sandy then called 911 and pulled over at Moscow Mills gas station, which is where the ambulance met her. Already in the area due to another call, the ambulance arrived on scene within four minutes of Sandy’s call. She was panicking, but said that the 911 dispatcher helped her focus and an officer who was on the scene assisted her in calming down.

“They found him unresponsive in the car,” said Dach. “They removed him from the vehicle, placed him on the stretcher and put him in the back of the ambulance.”

When Colyer was found by the EMS, he was in V-fib (ventricular fibrillation), meaning his heart was not pumping blood through his body because his heart’s chambers were beating irregularly. Generally, if V-fib is not treated within minutes, the victim will die. EMS shocked Colyer approximately seven times in an effort to get his heart to start beating in a more regular rhythm.

“We continued CPR the whole time and we got his heartbeat back twice, but he kept losing it- his heart wasn’t strong enough at that point,” explained Greg Maddock, EMS supervisor.

Once Colyer was in the ambulance, the EMS crew immediately began Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), which includes CPR. They attached a Lucas Chest Compression System to Colyer.  The Lucas is a machine that performs vigorous chest compressions during CPR and is able to sustain a higher blood flow to the brain and the heart than manual compressions. Blood flow is key to supplying oxygen to the brain; without oxygen the parts of the brain will start to die off after about four minutes.

He was clinically dead for about an hour, however, he kept trying to breathe even though his heart had stop beating.

“He was having what we call spontaneous respirations when his heart was not even beating, which is very abnormal,” said Maddock. “He was fighting the whole time.”

The Lucas was attached to Colyer for approximately 50-55 minutes, even when he was in the emergency room. “It kept me alive,” said Colyer of the Lucas.

EMS transported Colyer to the Lincoln County Medical Center (LCMC), where Colyer was in the emergency room for approximately 35 minutes. The LCMC ER staff continued ACLS and eventually got a pulse back and Colyer attempted to breathe on his own. St. Joseph Health Center was contacted and readily accepted Colyer’s transfer to their cardiac specialist. After just a couple of days, Colyer started to wake up.

“Each day he kept getting better,” said Sandy. She explained that when he first woke up, he had trouble remembering things. She said he did not know what year it was when he first came out of his coma. Colyer did not suffer from any permanent brain damage.

“Everything worked in his favor,” stated Dach. “The lead medic, which is the medic supervisor, was there within four minutes and met the ambulance at the same time, plus the combination of the training and the skills that EMS possesses to start everything.”

Due to the training and skill of both the Lincoln County Ambulance District and the LCMC ER doctor and staff, Colyer is able to watch his daughter grow up and, one day, added Sandy, walk her down the aisle at her wedding.

Go here for the rest of the story.

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