Agonal Breathing

Wife Saves Husband at Home

Posted by cocreator on February 20, 2014
Events / No Comments

Rita Houston awoke that December night to a sound she would later learn is called a “death rattle.”

Don Houston the Survivor

Don Houston the Survivor

It’s the gurgling sound her husband, Don Houston, was making as he lie in bed next to her. Hours before, he had been awake, eating grapes and reading a Louis L’Amour western novel as Rita Houston fell asleep.

But when she called 911, Rita Houston told the dispatcher her husband wouldn’t wake up. The dispatcher told her to pull her husband off the bed and get him to the floor to begin CPR.

The 5-foot-2-inch woman cried out to God countless times, pleading for the physical strength to move her husband, who was about 70 pounds heavier than her, off the bed.

As the dispatcher explained how Rita Houston needed to push on Don’s chest, she uttered, “I think he died, sir.”

Moments later, a team of emergency medical professionals were in Don and Rita Houston’s home, helping to save Don’s life.

In 2012, Don Houston was one of 33 people in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas who survived after suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, when a person’s heart stops unexpectedly, and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, medical director of the emergency medical system in the Tulsa and OKC metro area, said the EMS system for the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas recently learned from an analysis of its own statistics that it had a survival rate of 45 percent in 2012 for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting and have a bystander who provided CPR until emergency professionals arrive at the scene.

The region had one of the highest survival rates in the nation in 2012, he said. Among the 33 people who survived, 31 of them survived without major brain damage.

“It’s all the more rewarding when you realize that this is a system that, for a little over a decade, has earned a reputation for performing very, very well in some of the most serious medical conditions that can occur outside the hospital setting,” Goodloe said. “The real challenge for EMS systems that begin to achieving excellent clinical results is not just staying at that performance level but further advancing that performance level.”

One of the reasons that rate is so high, medical officials say, is because of how much the emergency medical system leaders have focused on ensuring that paramedics, EMTs and firefighters consistently are trained on the fundamentals of CPR.

Also, when they arrive at a scene, they’ve been trained to work largely as a team, cutting down on the chaos that can ensue when medical help arrives.

When EMT Carey Crump, paramedic Frankie Burch and a team of emergency medical professionals walked through the Houstons’ front door, Don Houston lay on his bedroom floor unconscious. At that point, he was considered clinically dead.

Crump and the others moved Don Houston into the living room, where there was enough room to work on him. They started CPR and taking other measures as Don Houston lay next to the family’s Christmas tree, presents next to him. It was a week before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Rita Houston stood by, watching strangers try to save her husband.

In the moment, when Crump is saving someone’s life, she doesn’t think about those details. But when the adrenaline began to wear off, she does.

“There’s a part of me where I know I have to do something that’s my job, and there’s the part of me thinking ‘That’s her best friend, that’s a family member,’ and you do everything you can help save him,” Crump said.

Crump worked with with Burch and the Oklahoma City firefighters who arrived on the scene to save Don Houston’s life. They rotated jobs, each taking turns delivering the chest compressions that someone performs while giving CPR.

“The heart is not beating, and you’re beating for it — that’s what the chest compressions are for,” Crump said.

Crump and the others kept performing CPR on Don Houston until his heart reached a “shockable rhythm,” meaning it has enough activity to respond to the shock from a defibrillator, a device that gives a shock to the heart, according to the American Heart Association.

Sometimes a person’s heart is not beating at all, so it can’t be shocked. But if a person’s heart is fluttering, it sometimes can be shocked to bring it back to a normal and healthy rhythm, she said.

The first time they used the defibrillator, they did not get a quiver from Don Houston’s heart. Or the second. But the third time, there it was. His pulse returned, and they were able to transfer him to a nearby hospital.

“We have so much technology here and so many advanced pieces of equipment and different things we are given to use, and we’ve trained countless hours of trained on this stuff, and it worked,” Crump said.

“We used everything we had. We shocked him three times, and that third shock got it.”

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Teammates Save Hockey Player on the Ice

Posted by cocreator on June 20, 2012
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Ron Amedeo, a 34-year-old father of twin 4-year-olds, skated backward toward his team’s goalie and fell to the ice. A few players from the previous game stood behind the glass, casually watching and shooting the breeze.


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Amedeo lay just to the right of goalie Shane Powers. The goalie waved and yelled to his brother, Council Bluffs chiropractor Cory Powers, who was one of those behind the glass. He hustled onto the ice through a nearby gate, followed by Tim Brady, a hockey player and nurse anesthetist at Creighton University Medical Center.

Tim Brady & Cory Powers the Saviours

Amedeo lay on his face and stomach.

Cory Powers and Brady first thought Amedeo had suffered a concussion or neck injury. Shane Powers, the goalie, knew better. He had seen how Amedeo had fallen, face first and limp, without having been hit or contacted in any way, before he slid across the ice and come to a stop near the goalie.

Shane Powers yelled for the defibrillator, which is usually called an AED. Someone called 911.

Dr. Jim Hammel, who played for the other team, skated over from the bench. He, like just about everyone else, thought Amedeo had been accidentally struck with a stick or knocked to the ice.

Hockey players and others gathered around Amedeo. They carefully rolled him onto his back. It grew quiet. Brady and Cory Powers still believed he had suffered a neck injury or concussion. They stabilized his neck.

Hammel got involved after a few seconds when Amedeo remained unconscious.

They put their fingers to his neck and pressed his wrist to check his pulse. Amedeo almost seemed to snore. Then his breath became shallow.

When his color began to turn bluish-purple, everyone knew Amedeo was in trouble.

Brady put his mouth to Amedeo’s and breathed a couple breaths. Shane Powers, who at one time was an emergency medical technician, began to attach the AED patches to Amedeo’s chest.

Hammel, a heart surgeon at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and transplant surgeon at the Nebraska Medical Center, moved the left patch a bit higher on Amedeo’s chest.

The AED whined into shock mode and everyone moved back. The shock came, jolting Amedeo’s entire body.

Men placed hockey gloves under Amedeo’s head.

Hammel started chest compressions. Amedeo had a pulse and his normal skin color began to return. His eyes remained closed.

Everyone felt relieved when the Omaha Fire Department arrived with its EMTs, who put a neck brace on Amedeo, placed him on a backboard, got him on a stretcher and headed for the Nebraska Medical Center.

The players stood on the ice, dazed. Some hadn’t been that nervous while the incident unfolded, but then they were left to their thoughts. … They chose not to resume the game.

Amedeo’s kids were watching TV as their mom, Jeanie Amedeo, washed dishes. She received a text that her husband had suffered a medical crisis and been taken to the hospital.

She hurried to the emergency room and held his hand. She is sure he opened his eyes for a bit. In the intensive care unit that night, personnel asked her what to do if his condition declined.

Doctors thought her husband would be on a ventilator for a couple days, but that night they were able to take him off it. “Ron is very strong,” his wife said.

Hammel thought about whether Amedeo’s brain had been denied oxygen too long and whether he would be OK. Cory Powers woke up in the night, wondering if they could have done something better and if they had done enough.

Amedeo’s heart had an arrhythmia, evidently because of scar tissue that had built up for unknown reasons. Doctors implanted a device to automatically jolt his heart if it loses its rhythm. He spent a few nights in the hospital and soon resumed light-duty work at his job at a data center.

“I feel better,” he said recently. He remembered nothing of the episode.

The Amedeos figure that the AED and the fast, skilled work of the guys saved his life. “My family is grateful,” Amedeo said. “I am too. But my biggest worry would be not being around for my family.”

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Wife Saves Husband at Home in Middle of Night

Posted by cocreator on July 11, 2011
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When Sahara Labadie, 12, woke her brother, Tucker Labadie, 13, around 1:30 a.m. on June 27, she had some devastating news to deliver.

“She was shaking me and saying, ‘Daddy’s dead,’” Tucker said. “At first, I thought she was messing with me.”

Their mom, Jen Labadie, had gone upstairs to bed 30 minutes earlier. William Labadie — just call him Bill — was already in bed. But something was very wrong.

“I think he was mad about the cat, because he said something about it, and then his head flopped into the pillow face first,” Jen said of her husband. “Then he made the most horrible gurgling noise I’ve ever heard. I picked his head up, and he was gone. The doctor said he was dead before he hit the pillow.”

Bill, 39, had gone into ventricular fibrillation — essentially blood is not removed from the heart and it’s usually fatal.

Jen quickly dialed 911, and stayed on the phone while performing CPR before paramedics arrived. “My panic buttons were completely out of control,” she said.

Sullivan Fire Chief Neil A. Henry was one of the first responders on the scene.

“He essentially had no pulse,” Henry said. “It would come back and then go away again … I wasn’t expecting a good outcome.”

Jen could tell that time and hope were running out. “At one point, Al looked at me with the most pity anyone’s ever looked at me with,” she said.

After working on Bill for more than 30 minutes in the Labadies’ bedroom, paramedics put him in the ambulance for the trip to Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.

“When I saw the ambulance pull out of the driveway with the lights going but no siren, and they weren’t going fast, I knew it was bad,” Jen said.

Tucker, his son, couldn’t believe what was happening. “It was like looking down on a dream from the top of a glass (ceiling),” he said.

All Jen could think of was that she didn’t want Bill to die outside the hospital, which would have prevented them from donating his organs.

“I couldn’t bear the thought of a world where his beautiful blue eyes weren’t around,” she said, fighting back tears.

Paramedics attempted to revive Bill with electrical shocks three times at the home and twice more en route to the hospital.

It seemed like a lost cause. And then it happened.

After being shocked for the fifth time, Bill suddenly regained consciousness, nearly an hour and 20 minutes after being considered medically dead.

“He came back with a vengeance,” Jen said. “He started ripping things out of him.”

Hospital staff immediately called for the rolling hospital unit, which transported Bill from Keene to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

But questions still lingered over whether Bill suffered irreparable brain damage during the ordeal, Jen said. “We didn’t know if he’d ever be the same again,” she said. “He was hooked up to everything you could think of.”

Ten days later Bill returned home, his brain fully functional and his body on the mend. On Saturday he walked a little, watched some TV, sat on the outdoor deck and the family grilled shish kabobs.

“It’ll be six to eight weeks before he can be active, and he can’t drive for six months because of the defibrillator in his chest,” Jen said of Bill, who works as a bridge builder for Cold River Bridges.

Bill said doctors told him they can’t explain how he recovered after being considered clinically dead for nearly an hour and a half.

“They don’t know, they just say it’s a miracle that I’m here,” said Bill, who celebrated his 39th birthday June 30 while in the hospital. “She (Jen) did good, keeping me alive.”

“They don’t see people come back from this,” Jen said. “People don’t survive this.”

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the survival rate for ventricular fibrillations occurring outside of a hospital is between 2 and 25 percent.

“There’s no way to explain how he’s still here,” Jen said. “He’s the strongest, most determined human being I’ve ever met, which is why I married him.”

Bill’s longtime friend and coworker, James Hollar, spoke of his strong will. “He’s a fighter, and he never gives up,” Hollar said. “There’s not too many people who can come back from where he was … maybe nobody.”

Henry, who’s been a firefighter since 1974, said he’s never seen or heard of anything like it.

“Of all the calls like this I’ve been on, that’s the longest I’ve seen anybody go that came back,” he said. “It was remarkable, and it’s a good feeling.”

Jen Labadie, who suffers from insomnia, is amazed at how many things went right for her at just the right moment.

“If I hadn’t been ready to go to bed yet, I would’ve had no idea (that Bill had suffered an attack),” she said. “Or if I’d taken my (sleeping) medication a few minutes earlier, I would’ve been out.

“I do believe in a divine power,” she said. “But I don’t know why certain people get miracles and some don’t.”

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Wife, Cops & Paramedics Save Man at Home

Posted by cocreator on May 27, 2011
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Diane Crawford was sound asleep in her Widgeon Lane home in the Mount Misery neighborhood after flying back home that evening from a trip to Disney World, when she was awakened at about 1:40 a.m. by her husband William’s “terrible, erratic breathing,” she said Tuesday morning from Stony Brook University Medical Center, where her husband is now recovering.

“I screamed out, ‘Daddy’s dying!’” she recalled, explaining that the exclamation was intended to get the attention of her 27-year-old son, Daniel, who was upstairs.

Ms. Crawford, 58, wasted no time, however.

A registered nurse at Southampton Hospital and former Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps member, she immediately started administering CPR—at first on the bed, but then, because the surface was too soft, she and her son moved the 6-foot-tall, 220-pound, Mr. Crawford, 67, to the floor. Her son had called 911.

Meanwhile, Daniel Crawford’s friend, Justin Dent, 27, who had been watching TV with the younger Mr. Crawford, ran outside to ensure that police found the right house, Ms. Crawford said.

When Southampton Town Police Officers Bartholomew Carey and Edward Henderson arrived, within minutes of the call, they found Ms. Crawford performing “quality CPR,” according to a police statement. They then took over the CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator, AED, to help revive Mr. Crawford, a landscaper, who, according to his wife, had not had any previous heart problems.

“I want these two officers to get the recognition they deserve, to show that their training worked, because had they not come to my house with their defibrillator in the trunk of their car, my husband would be dead. It’s as simple as that,” Ms. Crawford said. “These two men, they’re my heroes.

“You’re dead within minutes of having a cardiac arrest,” continued Ms. Crawford, who actually teaches CPR to new parents at the hospital.

She also credited the Sag Harbor ambulance crew members who, along with the police, provided three “shocks” to her husband. They administered advanced life support and took him to Southampton Hospital. In the ambulance, he returned to consciousness to everyone’s delight, she said.

The couple were able to celebrate their wedding anniversary together on Sunday. Ms. Crawford said her husband joked that his incident got him out of having to get her a present, while she told him his present to her was surviving.

All Southampton Town Police officers are trained in CPR and defibrillator use, according to Police Chief William Wilson Jr.

“The two officers, as well as the Sag Harbor ambulance, just did a spectacular job, as did the family members that had initiated the CPR before their arrival,” he said. “I think it just goes to prove that early intervention and taking steps to initiate CPR saves lives. I’m very proud of the officers. I’m very happy for the family that the gentleman is still with us.”

As of Tuesday, Mr. Crawford was still at Stony Brook, where he had been transferred for further cardiac care.

“My husband’s plumbing is good, but his electricity is not,” his wife quipped. “We just want to continue on to a very happy ending.”

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Paramedics Save Man at Home

Posted by cocreator on January 10, 2011
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65-year-old Ray Lecomber had been in the garden of the cottage at Kilgetty when he went inside for a break and fell asleep in a chair.

Ray Lecomber the Survivor

His wife, Brenda, was unable to wake him and was concerned at the strange snoring noises he was making.

She called an ambulance crew and Tenby Ambulance Station paramedics Mark Rice and Nick Tebbutt answered Brenda’s call, along with second-year paramedic degree student Keri Morgan.

Nick, a paramedic for 19 years, said he had never dealt with a patient quite like Ray before.

He said: “Ray was sat in the chair unable to understand what all the fuss was about. He was a little pale but everything else was fine.

“We asked if he’d let Keri examine him, which he agreed to, and Keri undertook base line observations including a respiratory and circulatory assessments as well as checking his blood glucose and temperature.

“In fact everything was within normal limits for Ray’s age and after conducting an ECG test, which also proved normal, we decided this was a false alarm although Brenda had been right to call us.”

But Mark, a paramedic for eight years, says there was a sudden change.

He said: “We were talking to the family and getting a bit of health history from Brenda when Keri noticed an abnormal rhythm on the defib screen. She thought one of the leads had come adrift as it seemed so strange but they were all still attached.

“It soon developed into what is called Torsades de Pointes, which is a rare ventricular arrhythmia (abnormal muscle contractions in the heart) although Ray was still talking to us.

“The arrhythmia developed into unconsciousness and Ray arrested.

“We quickly gave him a precordial thump and Nick started CPR. Keri managed his airway and I attached the defib pads and shocked him.

“Ray came to and asked why he was on the floor. We told him he hadn’t been well and we were taking him to hospital.”

But on the way to Withybush Hospital Ray stopped talking and his breathing decreased.

He was again shocked back to life and, amazingly, carried on a conversation where he’d left it as if nothing had happened.

The same thing happened five more times before the ambulance arrived at the hospital.

And over the next 24 hours, doctors had to shock Ray twice more as his heart stopped again.

Nick said: “Both Mark and I felt really concerned as we have never known someone survive after being shocked so many times. We really did fear the worst for him”.

Mr Lecomber said: “I fell asleep in a chair which is highly unusual for me. Apparently Brenda couldn’t wake me and as I was apparently making some strange noises she called an ambulance. Thank God she did.

“It turned out I had narrowing of two of my main arteries and I was having real problems. Apparently they had to shock me nine times although I don’t remember anything about it.”

And Mr Lecomber, father of David, is keen to sing the praises of the ambulance crew and NHS staff who treated him.

He said: “I won’t have anything bad said about any of them. From the call handler who took Brenda’s call to paramedics who treated me at home and apparently shocked me back to life and the hospital staff at both hospitals where I was treated, they are all dedicated and marvellous professionals”.

Mrs Lecomber, who has been married to Ray for 43 years, said: “Without their expertise Ray never would have made it.

“All the NHS staff were marvellous from start to finish and I have nothing but praise and respect for the work that they do.”

Ray added: “It was a real shock in more ways than one to be honest. I suppose it’s all about lifestyle. I have never been a smoker despite the consultant asking me more than once if I did smoke. I do like my food and enjoy all the things you are perhaps warned about like real butter, cream and stuff like that.

“I have been given a second chance and believe me, I’m not about to waste it.”

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