Lt. Bill England, a 25-year veteran of the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office, aged 60, said he was alone in his home in the Stratford Harbour section of the county. He was watching television in his living room on a Tuesday in January, about 8:30 p.m.
At first he thought the feeling in his chest was indigestion, he said, but soon the pain became worse. He started sweating, and his left arm felt like someone was sticking pins in it.
He called the Sheriff’s Office, where a dispatcher summoned an ambulance. The dispatcher also called fellow deputy Eric Molinares, who lives next door to England, and Vicky Beasley, a full-time paramedic with the county and a volunteer with the Montross Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Beasley said she drove from her home to England’s house. Molinares was already there and had retrieved the portable defibrillator from his police cruiser.
Beasley said she could tell right away that England was in trouble. She asked that a helicopter be sent to move him quickly to the hospital.
“He had a gray, ashen look,” she said. “He was sweating profusely. He was giving me an 8-out-of-10 chest pain. It was classic.”Beasley said she and the others were checking England’s vital signs and talking with him about his medical history when he went into cardiac arrest.
“He just reared back and gasped for breath,” she said.
Beasley said it reminded her of a person having a seizure. It was the first time she’d seen it.
“Most of the time we don’t get to see what the body does when the heart stops,” she said.
England said he remembers talking with Beasley but nothing after that.
“There was no pain. I just went to sleep,” he said.
The group pulled England from the couch to the floor. Beasley said she could not find a carotid pulse, so the trio hooked him to the defibrillator and gave him one shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.
The group continued to help him with his breathing and performed CPR. Soon he was moaning and breathing on his own, Beasley said. In the ambulance he responded to her questions.
A medical helicopter landed nearby at a farm owned by England’s mother. The air crew took him to Mary Washington, where he was treated by Dr. Ashok Prasad and Dr. Alex Na. One week later, Na performed quadruple bypass surgery.
England said he’s fine now and has returned to work.