After local EMS performs 210 minutes of CPR, McDowell Hospital doctors save life

From the press release:

Marion, N.C. – April 2, 2012 – When McDowell County EMS responded to a 7 a.m. call on January 25, they could not have anticipated the sequence of events that would occur over the next five hours.

EMS arrived at the scene to find 29-year-old-John Letterman hypothermic and unconscious. While EMS was transporting Letterman in the ambulance to the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. The EMS team immediately began CPR and initiated Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) protocols in an attempt to restart Mr. Letterman’s heart during the 30-minute drive to McDowell Hospital.

“EMS had already been performing CPR in the ambulance for 30 minutes, and once we received him, our hospital staff was waiting and ready to continue,” said Suzanna Berryhill, staff nurse at McDowell Hospital.

Part of the team performed CPR while others worked to rewarm the patient. Letterman moved his arms, motivating the team to continue their life-saving efforts. Staff from throughout McDowell Hospital participated, along with EMS units from throughout the county. In three-plus hours, a total of 28 persons had worked with the patient.

After Letterman was revived, he was transferred to Mission Hospital for further care. As a result of the resuscitation efforts and the care he received at Mission Hospital, Letterman survived. He is now at home with his family and expected to make a full recovery.

“Never in my 30 years of working in the emergency room have I seen an effort like this to save a life,” said Dr. Rex Henderson, Emergency Department Medical Director at McDowell Hospital. “The fact that our team went to record lengths to bring Mr. Letterman back to life is just an example of the commitment they have to patients and the community.” McDowell Hospital’s Emergency Department is staffed around the clock by Carolina Mountain Emergency Medicine’s team of board-certified Emergency Medicine specialists, to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care as quickly as possible.

While this case is unique, Western North Carolina residents should always be prepared for a situation involving cardiac arrest and know some of these life-saving techniques. McDowell Hospital and other hospitals across the region urge everyone to participate in Minutes Matter! This grassroots campaign was started by local health care professionals with the goal of educating at least 1% of the residents of Western North Carolina in life-saving techniques. These techniques include hands-only Continuous Chest Compressions and CPR, how to recognize a stroke (utilizing Act FAST) and the importance of early 9-1-1 activation. McDowell Hospital will be offering classes to the community throughout the year. For information, please contact Cara LaFon at (828) 659-5713.

About Mission Health

Mission Health, based in Asheville, NC, is the state’s sixth largest health system and the tertiary care regional referral center for Western NC and the adjoining region. In 2012, Mission Health was named by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 15 health systems in the nation – the only health system in North Carolina to receive this recognition.

Founded in 1885, Mission Health is a not-for-profit, independent community hospital system that operates four hospitals, numerous out-patient and surgery centers, and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 750 physicians, and is certified in over 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Centers of excellence include heart, stroke care and neurosciences, and pediatrics. Mission Hospital, the system’s flagship hospital, is licensed for 730 beds and is the busiest surgical hospital in North Carolina. Other Mission hospitals include Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion, and Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville.

Approximately 8,800 employees and 700 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to serving and improving the health and wellness of the people of Western North Carolina.


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