Updated July 23, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
Steamboat Springs An elderly Houston man who went into cardiac arrest between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Monday while playing tennis at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs had the good fortune to be playing on a court next to two physicians and barely 100 yards from the closest ambulance at Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue's mountain station.
Fire Captain Chuck Cerasoli said that by the time the ambulance pulled up to the emergency room at Yampa Valley Medical Center the man was alert and talking to emergency medical personnel. His condition was not available Monday afternoon, and his name was not released.
“We basically got his heart started and rushed him to hospital,” Cerasoli said.
Cerasoli was encouraged by the fact that the man was asking why his arms were full of needles and tubes upon arrival at the hospital.
Cerasoli said the quick availability of bystanders who knew cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and then an automated external defibrillator (AED) were a big factor in stabilizing the patient in a life-threatening circumstance.
“The basic things that save lives are CPR and early defibrillation,” Cerasoli said. “The window, we say the big window is 10 minutes from time of arrest to the time advanced life support (is begun). That’s one reason we’re big advocates of community CPR, and the sooner AEDs show up, the sooner an individual can get better.”
Someone on the scene or in the tennis center, which does not have an AED, immediately called 911 after the man collapsed on the tennis court.
Cerasoli said his crews were in the midst of a shift change when the call came in at 8:22 a.m., and they were on scene and delivering care by 8:26 a.m. The man is thought to be about age 70.
A Tennis Center employee said she recognized two of the bystanders providing CPR as physicians.
“Someone said the man at first sat down because he wasn’t feeling well,” said the woman, who declined to provide her name. “He got up again, but when he leaned over to pick up a ball, he fell on his face.”
Cerasoli said that when his crews first arrived with two paramedics, one on each ambulance, they took over CPR and followed protocols that call for two minutes of CPR to get the heart pumping again.
“This particular patient with CPR, he showed a shock-able rhythm,” Cerasoli said, clarifying that such a heart rhythm isn't always the case.
They shocked him once, obtained a favorable response, and continued CPR for two more minutes to keep blood moving to his heart.
Cerasoli said cardiac arrests require a large number of first-responders and that explains why three vehicles were dispatched to the scene. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue prefers to send two paramedics and to have two people participate in CPR — one doing the actual compressions at the new recommended rate of 100 beats per minutes, and another monitoring the airway.
Other first responders are there to insert IVs into the patient and give medication as needed. Another person runs the overall scene, and when it’s time to transport the patient, three or four people are involved in putting the patient on a backboard.
“If it were up to me, everyone in Steamboat would know how to do CPR,” Cerasoli said.
Different community organizations that provide CPR training include Colorado Mountain College, the hospital, Old Town Hot Springs and the firefighters’ union, he said.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com