It is a sad fact that most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are fatal. This only underscores the importance of bystanders knowing proper CPR techniques, which increases the chances of survival exponentially. CPR and the clinical expertise of both the Nashua, NH, Fire Department (NFD) and American Medical Response (AMR) first responders are why Patty Whitney has many more tomorrows to enjoy.
Patty suffered what appeared to be a life-ending cardiac arrest on April 3, 2020. Her husband, Alan, performed CPR even while on the line with 911. He and their son continued to perform CPR until NFD arrived. Patty was still unresponsive, but CPR had bought her critical time.
AMR Nashua Arrives on the Scene
Using an AED, NFD first responders applied two shocks in an attempt to revive her. AMR arrived as NFD was applying the second shock, both were unsuccessful. AMR continued to deliver a series of countershocks, managed Patty’s airway, and administered an array of medications. The AMR crew of Roger Chauvette and Luis Torres worked as Alan cheered Patty on, willing her to breathe. A moment passed that seemed an hour. Patty had a pulse.
She was rushed from the scene 20 minutes after the original call. Arriving at the hospital, she was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where she underwent a procedure to remove blockage. Patty was discharged from the hospital with no neurological deficits.
The First on the Tomorrow Wall
Patty and Alan were grateful to the first responders who save Patty’s life that day, and wanted to thank them personally. AMR Director Chris Stawasz coordinated an informal ceremony at AMR’s Nashua operation to meet both the NFD and AMR crews a month after the incident.
AMR had recently created "The Tomorrow Wall," a place to celebrate the success by crews bringing someone back from a full cardiac arrest. Patty and the crew who saved her life are the first to be added to the Nashua Tomorrow Wall.
Patty gave the crews a pin indicating a "Cardiac Arrest Save." Alan was given one, as well, who Stawasz says was key in saving her life. Her son will also be given a pin for his help in saving her life.
Patty wrote a thank you note to the crew members on the wall plaque with the crew names and presented it to AMR to be hung on the wall. She gave an emotional heart-felt speech about how thankful she was for what everyone had done to give her the tomorrows with her husband, five kids, and nine grandchildren.
Chauvette and Torres were emotional in reliving what happened, as well, and Stawasz reiterated how rare it is that people survive out of hospital cardiac arrest. Patty may be the first on the Tomorrow Wall, but with people like her husband and son, and the AMR and NFD crews, she is the first of many.
The Tomorrow Wall is on display in operations across AMR and serves as a constant reminder of the importance of early, high-quality CPR, timely defibrillation and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.