During EMS Week (May 15-21) Harris County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Best got a chance to thank the folks who saved his life earlier this year.
What follows is the story of what happened.
On Saturday, January 2, In Charge Paramedic Marci Perry and Paramedic Jimmy Obalua had just delivered a pregnant woman to the emergency department at Houston Northwest Medical Center. While Marci was bringing an emergency room nurse up to speed on the case, Jimmy was approached in the hall by an officer asking for help in the EMS break room. There, he found a Deputy Sheriff Daniel Best in severe distress. He was having trouble breathing and was trying to take off his gun belt and bullet proof vest to cool down. Jimmy and the other officer helped him into a chair as Jimmy told an observer named Amber to go get Marci.
Amber was doing an ambulance ride along to observe in order to decide if she wanted to become Medic. Marci says Amber did well under pressure and was very insistent that she needed to come right away.
Marci says, “She came running around the corner telling me Jimmy needed me and I said I’ll be back. I’m going to run this patient upstairs. NO, she said, Jimmy needs you NOW.”
Marci says when she walked in Deputy Best was gray in color. She says, “He looked really bad and he was trying to get his vest off cause he couldn’t breathe.” Marci says she was able to get his wife’s number and give it to another deputy so he could go get her because “I didn’t know if he was going to make it.”
Deputy Best was at the hospital because he was investigating the assault of a child. A call he chose to take because he thought it would be good experience for a trainee that was riding along with him. He went into the EMS Break Room because he needed a quiet place to make a phone call. Marci believes if the officer had not been at the hospital and had instead been in his squad car, the outcome would have been very different.
Marci says, “I think everything happens for a reason and he was working a case at the hospital for a reason. Had he been out in the field somewhere, I don’t think he would have made it. He went from gray and ashen and dry and within three seconds he was puddles-on-the-floor diaphoretic (extremely sweaty). There were literally puddles on the floor. He was that bad.”
As Marci and Jimmy quickly connected the officer to a Cypress Creek Heart Monitor they were joined by emergency room doctor Dr. Dorothy Lemecha. Marci and the Doctor knew immediately from the EKG results that the officer was having a severe heart attack known as a STEMI and had a severe blockage. Specific meds were administered by IV to give the officer some temporary relief. In just 28 minutes, the staff of the Heart Catherization Lab was prepped and ready to go. Since it was around midnight, they had been called in from home. Turns out the deputy had a life threatening 99% blockage in the artery known as “The Widow Maker.” In the Cath Lab, the blockage was opened up and stents were placed to keep the artery open. The cath lab activation goes on record as the fastest in the hospital’s history.
Deputy Best remembers going into the break room to make a call and suddenly feeling extremely hot and unable to breathe. He credits Marci, Jimmy and Emergency Room Dr. Dorothy Lemecha for saving his life. He says, “Marci and Jimmy were my angels. They never left my side until I was safely in the heart cath lab and ready for surgery.”