A Heart-Stopping Mission

On March 19, 2012, Jim Stevens was having that familiar shopping experience of many husbands… he was in a big store trying to find his wife. Suddenly, it was hard for Jim to stand and he began to lose consciousness. Jim collapsed and hit the back of his head hard. Bystanders witnessed him having a seizure. He was whisked out of the store unbeknownst to his wife and taken by Three Rivers EMS to Three Rivers Health. Eventually, Jim’s wife caught up to him in the Emergency Department.

Because Jim had experienced trauma as well as a cardiac event, his care was more complex than usual. When WMAC landed at Three Rivers Health, the crew conferred with the cardiology team at Bronson Methodist Hospital by phone and subtle STEMI ECG findings were identified. Heparin was deferred due to the possibility of ongoing bleeding in his brain, and he would first be met by physicians in Bronson’s ER. Abruptly after this plan was decided however, Jim’s heart began beating in a rhythm known as ventricular tachycardia. He was cardioverted twice by WMAC, but deteriorated to ventricular fibrillation and was defibrillated. CPR was initiated, epinephrine was given, and Jim rapidly regained pulses and consciousness. The staff of Three Rivers assisted WMAC in providing Jim with an antidysrhythmic called amiodarone, to prevent his lethal ventricular rhythms from recurring. Jim lost and regained consciousness repeatedly during the next few minutes, but his heart rhythm stabilized following the amiodarone infusion. Jim was responsive at that point, but drowsy and confused, and his prior instability made him a clear candidate for airway protection before transport. After RSI intubation by WMAC with the Glidescope®, Jim was flown to Bronson. Jim went to the heart catheterization lab, where he received a stent and a temporary pacemaker. Happily, he was discharged from Bronson after only a few days.

Jim loves his work as a process server and was glad to start working again shortly after his discharge from Bronson. He also continued outpatient cardiac rehab which included lifting weights and walking on a treadmill. Jim graduated from cardiac rehab recently and has arranged to continue exercising. He looks forward to picking up his former hobby, ice fishing, this winter. 

Jim knows a lot of people worked quickly the day of his heart attack to save his life, but cannot recall any of them. His lasting memory of that day is one of peace. “I was lying in the grass and it was warm. The sky was beautiful,” he said. Regarding those who helped him, Jim said, “I sure do want to thank them all. I can’t remember any of it, but I sure do want to thank everyone.”

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