Save Date: 2/6/1998
Activity: At restaurant
On February 6, 1998, I was celebrating my 48th birthday at a restaurant when I suddenly collapsed on my husband's shoulder. He thought I was just sleeping because as an Operating Room nurse, I was on call the night before and had worked all night and all day. He tried to wake me up but I was not responding. Our friend sitting across the table from us thought I didn't look so good and said that they should call 9-1-1. The Maitre d' called 9-1-1 while my husband started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They also called out to see if there was a doctor or a nurse in the restaurant. Lucky for me there was a doctor and a nurse who was an EMT. They came around to our table, laid me on the floor and started CPR. Within a minute or two, Police Officer James Brierton came in to the restaurant with an AED, an oxygen tank, and an airway. He connected me to the machine and pushed the analyze button. The machine told him that I needed to be defibrillated. He had to defibrillate me twice before my heart went into normal rhythm. The ambulance came within five minutes and took me to the St. Charles Hospital emergency department. I was still unconscious when I arrived. The doctors gave me a paralyzing drug and put a breathing tube in my throat. An EEG was done to see if there was any damage to my brain but it was negative. The next morning I started waking up and the breathing tube was removed. They told me that I was awake and talking but I can't remember my whole stay at St. Charles Hospital. I was transferred to St. Francis Hospital on Sunday, February 8. An Echo Stress Test was done the next day and it was negative. On Tuesday, a cardiac catheterization and a renal angiogram were done which turned out to be negative also. On Wednesday, they did an electrophysiology study of my heart. The doctor could not even induce my heart to go into ventricular fibrillation. They did not know what to do next. But because I was a documented cardiac arrest patient, they implanted an AICD on Thursday February 12. The device was tested the next day and I went home on Saturday February 14, Valentine's Day. What a present for my family. A bouquet of flowers was waiting for me at home from my guardian angel, Police Officer James Brierton. I went back to work after four weeks but was not allowed to drive for six months. I have been back to work full time and have done some traveling to talk about how important it is to have an AED close by when the need arises. I am thankful to the Suffolk Police Department for implementing a program in which their squad cars are equipped with AEDs and their police officers are trained EMTs. I have been involved with the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross in their symposiums on AEDs in Schools and Communities. I was asked to testify at the Suffolk Legislative Assembly about the importance of Public Access Defibrillation. I am involved with a local cardiac arrest survivor support group and I am a board member for the NCED SCA Survivor Network that has a website with a chat room. My goal is to be visible and let the people know that a life can be saved if we give it a try. The reason I am here today is because the chain of survival was carried out smoothly--early action (calling 911), early CPR (husband, doctor and nurse doing CPR), early defibrillation (police officer with AED), and early advanced cardiac life support (ambulance to hospital). I am happy to be one of the five percent that survived sudden cardiac arrest.