South Jordan woman owes life to CPR and Project Cardiac React
Father's Day 2010 will be a day South Jordan resident Rick Strong will never forget, but it's not because of any presents he received. It's the day he and South Jordan Paramedics saved his wife's life.
Stacy Strong, a healthy 38-year-old active mother of three with no family or personal history of heart disease or arrhythmia, for some unknown reason had a sudden cardiac arrest just after waking up that morning.
"I leaned over and told my husband 'Happy Father's Day,' and that was the last thing I remembered. I woke up in a hospital bed two days later and had no idea why I was there," she said.
Stacy Strong reported feeling great as she got up that morning, let her dogs out, made some coffee and returned to bed. Her husband said she lay down next to him and suddenly grabbed her pillow, gasped for air and then was totally unresponsive. Rick Strong happens to be a trained first responder and CPR instructor.
"I just went in to robot mode and I did what I had to do. Being a CPR instructor, I knew CPR couldn't save her, but I knew it could prolong her life long enough to get her where she needed to be," Strong said.
Rick Strong started CPR and called paramedics who arrived at their home in just four minutes.
Paramedics restarted Stacy Strong's heart several times both in her home and on the way to the hospital with the assistance of an AED. Paramedics also induced hypothermia as part of Project Cardiac React protocol.
Once at the hospital, doctors continued the treatment paramedics began and placed an implantable cardio defibrillator with two leads going to her heart to deliver an automatic shock if it goes out of rhythm again. Doctors still aren't sure what caused Strong's cardiac arrest.
"This was a very challenging call all around. We (paramedic team) worked very well together and took care of this patient," Paramedic Christopher Roper said. "This call took all of us and our "A" game to bring it to a great outcome. I'm very proud to be part of this team and I'm proud of how this turned out. This is why I became a paramedic. Saves like this are very rare.""
Project Cardiac React, a program started by South Jordan Fire Chief Chris Evans in 2005, is designed to save lives through a cardiac arrest public awareness campaign and implementing specific protocols related to sudden cardiac arrest victims.
With partners and funding from many local businesses, including a $100,000 donation from Merit Medical, the program has been able to distribute 80 AEDs throughout the community of South Jordan. City officials have created new city ordinances requiring AEDs in most public places and have been key in changing Utah law to protect those who attempt life saving measures for someone experiencing cardiac arrest.
"People don't understand the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. With cardiac arrest, you don't have time to tell anyone that there is a problem, you just pass out," Stacy Strong said.
Since Stacy Strong's life saving ordeal she has become passionate about CPR education to which she credits her life today.
"I wouldn't be alive today if my husband hadn't known CPR. It was only through the CPR he gave me that the paramedics had the chance to try and save me," Stacy Strong said. "The scary part is, the paramedics told me I was only the third person they have been able to save in five years. They just can't get to people in time without having CPR going before they get there."
South Jordan paramedics offer free CPR classes at any South Jordan workplace. Stacy Strong has accepted that invitation and organized an effort to bring CPR training to her South Jordan workplace, Merrick Bank. She hopes to get at least 50 people CPR certified.
Stacy Strong feels a strong sense of gratitude for the paramedics who saved her.
"Even though I have only met them once, they are like my family. I drive by the station every day and want to go in and say thank you. I was surprised how personal my case was to them. Their job really means something to them. I can tell saving me really touched their lives. They don't get paid enough for what they do," she said.
Photo Caption: Cardiac arrest survivor Stacy Strong and her husband Rick, pay a joyful, but teary visit to thank paramedics at South Jordan Station 62 at 4000 West and 10400 South for their help in saving her life.
Left to Right: Russ Avery, Mike Betteridge, Jon Stone, Orbil Solorzano, Stacy Strong, Rick Strong. Not pictured are paramedics Chris Roper and Dave Nelson.