Stephen Johnson

Age: 52
Save Date: May 27, 2007 and October 29, 2009
Activity: Exercising on treadmill

I am a paramedic who encountered one the most challenging calls of my career on May 27, 2007 at the age of 52: my own cardiac arrest.

I was working out at the firehouse on shift on the treadmill when I started having an uncomfortable feeling in my chest. I slowed down and walked awhile and then got off the treadmill and took a full aspirin. I walked out to the ambulance were some of the other paramedics were training. They put me on the monitor and ran a 12 lead EKG. This showed I was having a heart attack, a STEMI MI.

En route to the hospital I arrested five times. On the last defibrillation I woke up with them bagging me. I had to ask them why? They then told me what had happen. I was taken to the cath lab and a stent put in my coronary artery. I was discharged from the hospital in two days.

There were no bright lights at the end of the tunnel for me, nor did I see them work on me as in an out-of-body experience. I did have burn marks on my chest from the pads which lasted about two weeks. So far every thing is ok. I still exercise every day but now I just walk.

Now the story continues, two and a half years later and hundreds of miles logged walking. I walk everyday at the firehouse during my lunch hour and at home on the weekends; I collapsed again. Yes, I was on the treadmill, and yes, at the firehouse. This happened on October 29, 2009. Fortunately, there were other people working out with me when I went down. Apparently, I was thrown off the treadmill so hard that I received a fractured skull from the fall. As my colleagues went for help I lied there in full cardiac arrest again.

The first paramedic to arrive had grabbed the AED off the wall, but he did not release the strap that holds the AED in place, and interestingly enough, the whole bracket and AED came with. Again, CPR and ventilations were started and multiple shocks were delivered.

The prognosis was not looking good for me. I went into asystole and was not responding to the treatment. They had been performing CPR on me now for 15 minutes. They were able to give me the drugs through the intraosseous route which is what my heart needed to started again, and I believe this one of the reasons that I am alive today to tell my story.

When I arrived at the hospital I was awake and talking. I had spent seven days following my cardiac arrest in the hospital recovering. I had a stent placed in my coronary artery and had a defibrillator implanted to prevent this from happing again.

I was fortunate to survive again because of the valiant efforts of my colleagues. They have told me to please stay off the treadmill and find another way to exercise; they are getting tired of saving me.

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