When it comes to surviving cardiac arrest, the help of complete strangers is crucial, as evidenced by two recent cases in the City of Alpharetta. The Department of Public Safety is fortunate to have saved three times the national average in 2012. Fast response times and well-trained personnel played a role, but the help of perfect strangers was also vital, according to a story submited by the city.
Steve Rosenthal, of Johns Creek, knew he had high cholesterol, but he never anticipated that at age 58 he would be in a battle for his life. On Nov. 18, 2012, Rosenthal ‘s heart stopped while he was riding his bicycle alone on the Big Creek Greenway in a wooded area near North Point Mall.
A manager at RBM of Atlanta, Rosenthal set out that afternoon near Marconi Drive off Windward Parkway. After a few miles, a citizen called 911 to say a man was on the ground and having trouble breathing. ADPS personnel were dispatched, arriving in approximately four minutes. Rosenthal had stopped breathing and was turning gray. An anesthesiologist who was on the Greenway assisted emergency medical staff in providing Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
Rosenthal learned in 1998 he had high cholesterol and began exercising and changing his diet. He did not know he had substantial arterial blockage and received no warning that day, he said.
Paramedic Matt Caswell led a team of firefighters and EMTs, including Mitchell Poole, James Cheatham, Mark Rettenmeyer, Brad Denkinger, Jeremy Reifsnyder, Joshua Kaman, Jon Caldwell and Mark McManious.
“I’m just so thankful for all of these guys,” Rosenthal said. “I was so lucky and blessed in so many different ways. Everybody did such a wonderful job.”
The team intubated him, started intravenous fluids, injected Epinephrine and administered the Automated External Defibrillator four times. Rosenthal was transported by Rural Metro ambulance to North Fulton Regional Hospital and was subsequently airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was put into a coma and later underwent surgery.
He survived despite the odds. Survival from an out-of-hospital heart attack in which the patient stops breathing is generally less than 10 percent. Studies have shown that bystander (CPR) significantly improves the odds. In 2012, the survival rate in Alpharetta for these patients was 28 percent.
Rosenthal has a wife, a 26-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son. He recently took his bike out again for a ride, this time in a well-populated area.
“I strongly encourage our citizens to learn CPR as cardiac events often occur suddenly without warning,” said Public Safety Director Gary George. “A CPR trained citizen provides that initial critical lifesaving link. In that critical moment, a life may be sustained until first responders arrive on scene.”
Anthony Person was playing basketball at the Ed Isakson YMCA/Alpharetta Family YMCA when his heart stopped. The 41-year-old father had been fighting the flu but his friends persuaded him to come to the game. He went into cardiac arrest at about 1 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2012. YMCA employees started CPR which kept oxygen circulating through his body. They also had the AED pads on the patient when firefighter/EMTs arrived. He was shocked immediately.
“That resulted in a return of pulse and some respirations by the patient,” said firefighter Angela Bayne. “These citizens definitely aided in the saving of this man’s life.”
The YMCA employees were Dinita Khana, Kevin Allen and Joji Castillo.
“Our Fire Services department maintains an annual ‘cardiac save’ percentage that’s much higher than the national average. With CPR-trained citizens and public safety partnerships, we can raise the bar even higher,” George said.
Person was transported to North Fulton Regional and transferred to St. Joseph Hospital where he had two stints implanted. He had experienced some chest pain prior to the arrest but attributed it to the flu.
“I am very thankful for the people there,” Persons said. “I want to thank everyone who participated and all those people who saved my life.”