||When Judy and
Jack Cain left their home in Carlinville, Illinois to
drive straight through to their daughterís home in Houston
for a visit, they had no warning whatsoever of the events
about to unfold.
Married for more than 52
years, the couple enjoyed good health in their active retirement
years and were excited about seeing their family. Just after
arriving Jack, 75, had walked upstairs in his daughterís home and
suddenly collapsed against his wife, then slumped to the floor.
David Braun, age 12,
realized what must be happening to his grandfather and, while
scared, was willing to help. In fact, if necessary, he could have
helped with CPR. Both he and his 14 year old sister, Denise, had
received CPR training through a program at Lakewood United Methodist
Instead, Davidís dad,
Kirk, called 9-1-1, started the life-saving technique and sent
Denise several houses away to summon a neighbor who was a CCEMS
"Things happened so
fast after that," wife Judy said. "Looking back, Iím
amazed at how calm I was through those first few minutes. I prayed
for strength and for Jack to make it, and this really seemed to help
me through it."
He had no pulse and was in
ventricular fibrillation. The team administered three defibrillator
shocks; no response. They tried Epinephrine and Lidocaine;
neighbor Pat Howard arrived, the street in front of
the house filled up with emergency vehicles. Cypress Creek
Fire Department and CCEMS teams arrived and took over the
unresponsive as the paramedics evaluated his condition and
responded with the appropriate protocol.
Cainís Dream Team:
(l-r) wife Judy, Chad Adam, EMT-I; Jack;
Lisa Sands, EMT-P (In-charge paramedic);
and Kim Garrett, R.N., EMT-P.
Then the CCEMS team used a
relatively new drug, Amiodarone -- an antiarrhythmic which
slows nerve impulses in the heart and acts directly on the heart
tissues -- and Jack responded. Before long, he was trying to breathe
on his own and was stable enough to be transported to the hospital.
While Jack remained stable
through the night, early the next morning he once again experienced
arrhythmias, and several times during the day had to be shocked back
to normal rhythm.
"This was when I
finally Ďlost ití," Judy Cain explained. "It hit me
that, with all the times they had to get his heart started again, I
might lose him. I just didnít know how I could deal with
Later in the day, the
doctors felt he was strong enough for a cardiac catheterization to
determine the extent of his problem. The tests revealed that his
left coronary artery was 99 percent blocked so, during angioplasty,
three stents were inserted to open up the vessel.
irregular heartbeat continued intermittently, leading his doctors to
recommend that one of the newer, automatically defibrillating
internal pacemakers be installed. Jack came through the procedure
well, and was soon on his way to recovery; feeling better every day.
Jack has a full life in
Illinois and was anxious to return to his retirement
"career." After years in broadcasting and public
relations, Jack kept himself busy doing some volunteer work for a
senior citizen complex. It wasnít long before they persuaded him
to tackle managing the project. He says heíll take it easy for a
while, however, after he returns home.
Jack remembers little of
his day of excitement, but says he feels an "overwhelming
emotion" when he thinks about all the people and equipment it
took to save his live.
"It makes such an
impact to see this many people, all with the same ideas and caring
philosophy," he said. "They even visited me while I was in
the hospital. Kim Garrett checked on me every day. I really felt
like I had a bunch of folks pulling for me."
An important factor in
Jackís recovery was that the CCEMS team was trained to use the new
drug, Amiodarone. While it is not the first-line protocol for
treating ventricular fibrillation, it has made a life-or-death
difference in each case it has been used by CCEMS teams to date.
CCEMS learned of the drug
when one of their own, Dee Mifflin, had a cardiac arrest last
year and the drug was instrumental in saving his life when he
didnít respond to other medications. They made arrangements to
obtain the drug from its manufacturer, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories,
and held a comprehensive, in-house training program to prepare for
its use on the ambulances. A special protocol was developed by the
organizationís medical director, Levon Vartanian, M.D.
CCEMS was the first
emergency medical service in the state to be certified in the use of
the drug in the pre-hospital population.
The team of ems and fire department volunteers it took to save