In the early morning hours of October 2015, Mr. Martin, a 60 year old man, was found by his family to be unconscious and not breathing. 911 was immediately called and the patient’s wife was given CPR instructions by the dispatch center. Within minutes, Skyway Fire Department Engine 22 and Aid Car 22 were on scene, finding the man to be in cardiac arrest. The crews immediately continued CPR and attached an automated defibrillator.
Nearly 383,000 cardiac arrests occur every year outside the hospital setting; 88% of the time the patient is at home. The brain begins to have irreparable damage after just a few minutes without oxygen. CPR is crucial in order to preserve both brain and heart function until the heart can be restarted with advanced life support. King County leads the way in cardiac survival rates internationally, in part due to the large number of citizens trained in CPR.
Shortly after the arrival of Engine and Aid 22, KCM1 Medic 5 arrived on scene to continue the resuscitation efforts. KCM1 Medics have advanced medical training, allowing them to provide much of the same life-saving care offered in an Emergency Room.
Upon their arrival, the Medics quickly established an IV to administer drugs and intubated the patient to breathe for him. The patient’s heart was found to be in ventricular fibrillation, a state where the heart muscle quivers uncontrollably and cannot efficiently pump blood through the body. Through the IV, antiarrhythmic drugs were given and the patient was shocked with a defibrillator several times before Paramedics were able to restore a normal heart beat and blood pressure. Paramedics performed a 12-lead EKG, which showed that the patient was suffering from a heart attack. The patient was quickly loaded into Medic 5 and transported to Valley Medical Center. Enroute, Paramedics provided early notification to the ER so that they could prepare to provide Mr. Martin with a coronary stent to open his heart’s blood vessels without delay.
Returning the heart to a normal rhythm is only the beginning of the patient’s long road to recovery. Across the country, the chance of surviving a bystander-witnessed cardiac arrest is 33%. Last year, King County averaged 54% in survival rates, thanks to the progressive efforts of King County Medic One, local fire departments and the medical community.
One week after his cardiac arrest, the same paramedics from Medic 5 who treated Mr. Martin, visited him in the hospital. Due to the care provided, he suffered no physical or neurological compromises. He was in good spirits and eager to return home with his family and community. It was for patients like Mr. Martin that King County Medic One was founded nearly 40 years ago and continues to provide state-of-the-art emergency medical care.
Todd Merry was hired by KCM1 in 2010 after working for 13 years as a Firefighter/EMT.