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New Antiarrhythmic Drug Turns Out To Be A Real Life-Saver
 
by: Barbara Payne

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 Church.

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 paramedic.

"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."
 
Minutes after 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 patientís care.

Jack was unresponsive as the paramedics evaluated his condition and responded with the appropriate protocol.

He had no pulse and was in ventricular fibrillation. The team administered three defibrillator shocks; no response. They tried Epinephrine and Lidocaine; no response. 
 



 

Jack 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 that."

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.

Unfortunately, his 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 Jackís life.

Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services -- CCEMS -- was founded in 1975 to provide top quality, dependable, 24-hour emergency medical services for residents living in the unincorporated FM 1960 of Houston, Texas. CCEMS responds to 9-1-1 medical emergency calls in a 250 square mile area of north Harris County, and serves a population of over 450,000 people. Over the last 24 years, CCEMS teams have responded to more than100,000 calls.

Today, CCEMS has 7 stations and 9 fully-equipped Mobile Intensive Care Units licensed by the state of Texas. CCEMS responds to an average of 1100 calls per month -- double the response pattern of five years ago.

Including 9-1-1 dispatch time, callers wait an average of only 6 minutes 50 seconds for the ambulance to arrive. CCEMS First Responders, trained volunteers located throughout the community, dispatched at the same time as the ambulance, often arrive on the scene within five minutes to begin providing expert emergency care.

CCEMS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer based organization that relies on contributions from area residents, businesses and civic organization for funding, supplemented by Third Party Billing for service calls in which emergency services and transport are provided.

 
         
 
   

       

 
Humble, Tx Atascocita, Tx Kingwood, Tx