Randy Stevens has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
On Nov. 8 Stevens, 51, was dead for at least 20 minutes, kept alive by CPR administered by his girlfriend, Lisa Wright, by Makakilo firefighters and finally by paramedic Shirley Ann Cazinha.
Randy Stevens the Survivor
The firefighters used a defibrillator three times to send dosages of electrical energy to Stevens’ heart to try to restart it while he lay on the floor of his second-floor Waiko Place bedroom.
When city Emergency Medical Services paramedic Cazinha and emergency medical technician Kaipo Hayashida arrived at the two-story Makakilo home after 11 p.m., Stevens’ skin was purple. He had no pulse and was not breathing.
Doctors later said he had suffered “a sudden death cardiac arrest.”
On Thanksgiving, Stevens met with Cazinha and Hayashida for the first time since his heart attack.
“I am very thankful,” Stevens told reporters. “I am very blessed.”
Cazinha, who has been a paramedic for nearly four years, said her heart dropped to her stomach when an EMS dispatcher told her and Hayashida by radio to respond to a “51-year-old male in cardiac arrest.”
“There were cars in the driveway,” Cazinha recalled. “We couldn’t get our gurney in, so we just went in.”
Cazinha said firefighters had already tried unsuccessfully three times to restart Steven’s heart with the defibrillator.
Even after shocking Steven’s heart two more times, Cazinha said, “there was no response.”
“There was nothing to indicate that his heart was operating.”
Cazinha said she continued to perform CPR on Stevens, shocking his heart for a sixth time while the ambulance was taking him and Wright to Pali Momi Medical Center.
“I kept pounding on his chest,” Cazinha said.
The sixth defibrillator shock resuscitated him.
“There was a nice rhythm.” Cazinha said. “There was good beating, good pulse. His color started coming back. He started to look pink again.”
At that point Stevens remembers waking up in the ambulance, hearing the siren and Wright telling him to wake up.
“I thought I was dreaming,” he said.
Cazinha said Stevens started talking at that point, saying, “I love you, baby.”
Cazinha said she called out to Wright, who was sitting in the front of the ambulance.
“He’s talking. She was crying. I was crying,” Cazinha said.
Wright, who was an EMT with Hawaii and Maui counties, added, “You never think this will happen to your own loved ones. When it happens to your loved one, it’s a different ballgame. I never thought it was going to happen to me.”
Also joining the group Thursday was Deputy Sheriff Bryan Marciel, a neighbor, who helped Wright administer CPR on Stevens.
Wright also credited another neighbor, Dr. Jonathan Paladino, a cardiologist, for his assistance Nov. 8.
Wright and Stevens said his heart attack shows how important it is to have “someone in every household learn CPR.”
“I am the living example,” said Stevens, who works as a property and land manager for Edmund C. Olson Trust.
Two of his seven teenage children are now CPR-qualified.
Stevens, who had just completed a physical examination and had no history of high blood pressure or cholesterol problems before his heart attack, now has an automatic internal cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest. Similar to a pacemaker, the device constantly monitors his heart rhythm and automatically administers shocks for various life-threatening arrhythmias.
Hayashida, who hopes to qualify as a city paramedic, had been working as an EMT for only two months when he and Cazinha responded to the emergency.
“His case was pretty unique,” said Hayashida. “This was first case he saw when a person came back from a cardiac arrest.”