First responders recognized for saving Hampton man’s life
A first-responders crew who helped a Hampton man survive cardiac arrest was recognized at the Sept. 26 Hampton Township Council meeting.
Leo Butcher, 43, was mowing the lawn when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Robert Henrich, also a Hampton Township resident, was nearby, called 911 and started CPR, according to Joe Johnson, supervisor of the Shaler-Hampton Emergency Medical Services.
Johnson said Hampton Township police officers Jacob Mitchell and Austin Campanella quickly arrived at the scene and began Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. Shortly after the police, Shaler-Hampton EMT Jonathan Swinney, paramedic Dirk Baker, assisted by paramedic supervisor David Gallagher, continued emergency medical treatment.
Johnson said Butcher “miraculously had a return to circulation in the field,” and was then taken to UPMC Passavant Hospital Emergency Room in McCandless where he was stabilized and later placed in intensive care.
Butcher said he didn’t remember anything from the actual cardiac arrest as he was unconscious.
“It took me a few days before I realized what had happened,” said Butcher.
A few weeks later, Butcher wanted to show his gratitude so he visited the Shaler-Hampton EMS crew, even bringing a cake.
The EMS also worked with Linda Reiger, EMS specialist for UPMC St. Margaret, and Cheryl Rickens, an EMS specialist for the UPMC AED program and representative of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Western PA Chapter.
Rickens said a person who survives a scenario like this is a “rare occasion.”
The first responders received “certificates of heroism” and uniform pins to honor their efforts. Henrich received a pin for his “good Samaritan” efforts, and even Butcher was awarded a survivor pin.
All received a pack of candy Life Savers.
Johnson said less than 10 percent of those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive.
“Those who do are very fortunate. We put together a very good team to help facilitate that,” said Johnson.
He said Baker and Swinney have been with Shaler Hampton EMS since January, and Gallagher since 2002.
Heinrich said he learned CPR from a course given at this job. He and Butcher work for Allegheny County.
Reiger said it shows how important it is to know CPR and encouraged the audience to do the same.
Unlike a heart attack, which is an issue with the “plumbing” aspect of the heart, sudden cardiac arrest is an “electrical” issue with the heart, which is what Butcher suffered, said Rickens.
An SCA occurs when there is a lack of impulses so no heart rate and rhythm; hence asystole or cardiac standstill, flatline. Or it can occur when there is an overload of electrical impulses, said Reiger.
“The heart is beating so fast and chaotically that it cannot sustain life,” she said.
Use of an automated External Defibrillator may be used here, she said.
And “CPR, chest compressions specifically are important in SCA as it helps to restore circulation to the brain cells, heart muscle and lung tissue,” she said. These can be learned in a CPR class.
Johnson said they checked on Butcher’s situation after they took him to the emergency room and they were very grateful of the cake and visit.
“This is a wonderful event because we celebrated a life that’s been saved. It’s also difficult too because it reminds us of our mortality,” said Johnson.
Butcher said he was very appreciative of the everyone who helped save his life.
“It was great meeting each person and thanking them,” he said.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.