My good friend and former co-worker (he left Indonesia last year) startled us all with news that he’d suffered a sudden heart attack after playing basketball. This is a man who has less than 10% bodyfat, eats well, and exercises on a daily basis. We were all absolutely shocked by the news, and it was only his quick thinking that saved his life. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine what would have happened had this occurred in Jakarta, considering the lack of emergency systems, horrendous traffic, and less than consistent health care. It was a story too close to home considering the passing of my boss and friend in 2006, who collapsed right before me, and whom we carried to the ER to no avail.
It was a February afternoon and Jeff Campbell had just finished a basketball game.
In shape, and only 38, Campbell had noticed, but didn’t pay much attention to pains in his left arm over the previous week.
On his way home from the game, Campbell couldn’t help but recognize the pains had suddenly become much more severe.
He took a shower and couldn’t stop sweating.
That’s when Campbell knew something was terribly wrong.
“I think I knew when my heart started beating pretty rapidly that this was something I couldn’t take care of myself,” said Campbell.
Campbell then grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
“I was very glad I called when I did because I can’t recall how quickly it was that they came, but I knew within a minute or two I was unconscious and I wouldn’t have been able to call,” said Campbell.
When Parker paramedics arrived at his home, Campbell was unconcious.
Doctors say he suffered from a cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation.
Paremedics performed CPR and electroshock cardioversion.
Campbell’s cardiologist at Parker Adventist Hospital says Campbell’s call saved his life within a matter of seconds.
“Not many people his age would make a call and say, ‘I’m having a heart attack, or something is wrong with my heart. The paramedics, EMTs, as they arrive they play a crucial role, because they now know exactly when Jeff had his cardiac arrest. They also have enough history to give us some insight to what to do,” said Dr. Barry Molk.
Molk was just one of several health professionals who gathered at Parker Fire District Station 74 on East Lincoln to receive a big thanks from Campbell.
The group also included the emergency room team and members of the Parker Fire Department.
Dr. Molk credits the well-coordinated effort between the paramedics and hospital staff immediately following Campbell’s call.
During the resuscitation, the team of Parker paramedics recorded Campbell’s EKG and recognized that it was a heart attack that caused his cardiac arrest.
The team then activated a cardiac alert system by calling the emergency department at Parker Adventist Hospital.
Still, Dr. Molk says it all started with Campbell’s call.
“It’s always a surprise when someone this young has a heart attack. I think it was very astute on Jeff’s part, because a lot of people would ignore this and simply say it’s gotta be something else,” said Molk.
The American Heart Association reminds people of the warning signs for heart attacks.
First is chest discomfort that could last more than a few minutes, or it could go away and come back.
It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
Second is discomfort in other areas of the body like the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
The third warning sign is shortness of breath without chest discomfort.
Other signs could include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
For more information on warning signs and or treatment, you can visit the American Heart Association’s Web Site at americanheart.org.