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EMS Week

National EMS Week – Guest Blog Post #1

The following story is from Will Reynolds Young. Will is a 20-something social media lover with a passion for helping business and technology collide. This a real-life account of Will’s appreciation for the EMS personnel who responded to his apartment several years ago to help his father.

I’d come home from working overnight till early in the morning, and I wasn’t feeling too well but what comes next is the nightmare no one wants. I was suddenly woken up by my father standing over me. I know, horrible being awoken mid-sleep. Clearly annoyed to be awoken from sleep, my dad explained he wasn’t feeling well. Still rather annoyed to be awakened myself, my dad lays next to me and says that he think he needs to go to the ER. He calls 911 and explains he thinks he’s having a heart attack. He was having trouble climbing the stairs to our second-floor apartment in Castle Shannon, PA.

The 911 dispatcher is asking my father questions about he feels, but all I can think about is, “Is this real?” I can hear the dispatcher explain they are dispatching EMS, police, and fire for whoever has the fastest response. I finally come to my senses and jolt out of bed to get dressed and encourage my father to try and make his way into our living room. As I quickly get dressed, some of my biggest fears are becoming realized. My father has had atrial fibrillation for over a decade. He’s had a pacemaker installed and always expressed to my brother and me about his increased risk for heart attack and stroke. He was always very clear about the best practices and signs of stroke and heart attack. Regretfully, despite his pacemaker, his heart still does not beat in rhythm the pacemaker never was able to keep him in rhythm for more than a day, so they turned the pacing function off and left it in the case of cardiac arrest.

To my surprise, my father’s biggest concern isn’t that he think he has a heart attack but that he won’t be able to get down the stairs to get to the hospital. He’s also concerned about a meeting he might miss. To ease his concerns, I explain I’m sure the EMS personnel are experienced about responding to apartment complexes. As the time ticks by and I try to calm my father it feels like forever has passed, but in reality, it’s only been a few minutes. Less than a few moments later I hear the sirens. It still felt a little like a nightmare, but the reality of the situation started to set in.

As we anxiously await the arrival of the emergency personal, it occurs to me that somewhere I read it’s a good idea to check for the responders periodically. In our apartment complex, the numbers are some new sort of elaborate scheme that makes sense, but it’s not normal way complexes are numbers. I decide it’s best to step out our front and anxiously walk to the end of the second story stairwell and look out for the emergency personal. As I approach the edge of the balcony, I immediately spot the very familiar MRTSA (Medical Rescue Team South Authority) distinct ambulance and a Castle Shannon police SUV. I attempt to wave them down from the 2nd story with no avail, and I jolt downstairs, and they barrel into the complex. They see me nearly immediately and start firing a flurry of questions.

I lead the EMS responders upstairs along with the Castle Shannon police explaining my father’s symptoms, feelings, and a short medical history. They follow-up with several questions quickly accessing the situation. As soon as they enter the apartment and I lead them to my father, he explains he doesn’t think he can walk down the stairs and they have an immediate answer with a specially designed chair. At this point, I know all I can do is wait, allow the professionals to work and be there for my father. As time wares on I anxiously look on as they examine him, hook up a heart monitor, ask him medical questions and about what symptoms he’s having. The gentlemen strap my father into a special transport chair to help get him down the stairs.

As this point, I’m anxious to get to the hospital, and the responders are calm, collected and precise in their actions and speaking to be efficient as possible. I follow-up as they slowly and carefully use this specialized chair to transport my father down the stairs armed with my car keys. As we get to the bottom of the stairs, there’s a stretcher waiting to transfer him to. I slowly walk to my car and start making phone calls to let my father’s brother, who lives close, that we are headed to Saint Clair ER. He agrees to meet us. I sit in my car behind the ambulance waiting for it to depart to the ER. A short note from my father’s perspective:

When I got into the ambulance, the EMS personnel hooked me up to an EKG machine and after my asking; what’s happening to me? Professionally they responded I had a heart attack. This was my first official diagnostic and helped me to prepare mentally and emotionally for what was to come. The EMS personnel helped keep me calm, diagnosed accurately and held my hand during my transport. Without their quick, professional response I may not be alive today. I owe a huge dose of gratitude to the EMS Personnel for their professional, quick, compassionate response.

Soon the ambulance makes its way down the long steep and winding driving of our apartment and carefully hits the side streets to make its way down yet another hill to Mount Lebanon Blvd.

As soon as the ambulance hits Mount Lebanon Blvd, the lights flick on, and the vehicle speeds ahead of me racing down sirens blaring and lights flickering. I keep up in my Honda Accord for about a mile until the ambulance is far too quick to follow. This is the moment it sets in that my father might not make it. They turned the lights on; the nearly doubled the speed limit, this isn’t a dream at all.

I anxiously wait in traffic, and when I arrive at the hospital, my father has several doctors and nurses racing around him. He’s already receiving an X-Ray, and they are setting to take him up to the cath lab. I meet my Aunt and Uncle as we all stare blankly into the room wondering what’s going on. It doesn’t take long in the cath lab to learn that my Dad needs a triple bypass, immediately. As my father rolls out of the cath lab towards surgery, he attempts to give a thumbs up but he clearly has a lot of trouble.

I am immensely grateful to the two individuals who responded that day to help save my Dad’s life. Without their services and the help of the staff at Saint Clair Hospital, there’s no doubt in my mind that my father wouldn’t have made it. Because of their quick and calm actions of the highly skilled medics of MRTSA he now lives in a retirement community in Florida, where he’s able to enjoy daily activities such as golf, cycling and swimming in addition to his favorite backgammon.

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