Greg Hart's Heart
One early morning in September, Grand View paramedic Becky Smith arrived on the scene of an emergency call from the mother of a 32-year-old man who was having chest pains. Extremely pale and sweating profusely, patient Greg Hart needed skilled intervention quickly.
“I knew something was wrong,” Becky says.
One of the first things Becky and her partner Kevin Kokinda did was identify the condition of Greg’s heart through a 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG), an essential monitoring tool that enhances views of the heart and its surrounding area prior to arriving at the ER.
The EKG showed the possibility of a Myocardial Infarction, meaning quick response was necessary. “I knew how important the 12-lead EKG was,” says Kathleen Hart, Greg’s mother, “and I was happy that Becky did too.”
Also a paramedic, Kathleen was able to administer emergency cardiac therapy before Grand View arrived--CPR and three pre-cordial thumps to get his heart beating again.
“If Kathleen hadn’t done what she did before we got there, I don’t think he would have made it,” says Becky. “Greg was very lucky.”
Becky then helped carry the heavy-framed man, much weightier than 5-foot-6-inch Smith, out of the house and through the garage on a stretcher with the bulky cardiac monitor attached. It took an effort from all three of them working together to get Greg out of the house and into the ambulance parked on the hilly street.
Once in the vehicle, Becky and her partner Kevin operated “like a well-oiled machine,” working together to bring the man’s low blood pressure up with a saline IV, get another set of vitals, check blood oxygen levels, and administer nitroglycerin to calm his chest pains. They also took blood samples for the emergency department to use in testing for cardiac enzymes once they reached Grand View.
Greg ultimately received a six-inch stent to clear the full blockage of his right coronary artery. Although her shift was over, Becky stayed with Greg while he was waiting for his heart catheterization procedure, explaining the process to him and keeping him calm during the interim. Becky’s ability to keep her mind open to all possibilities, even in a situation where a man who is younger than her might be having a heart attack, is why she’s credited for saving a life that day.
“You can’t get tunnel vision,” she says. “You have to be able to piece everything together to assess everything that’s going on. Things aren’t always cut and dry.”
Becky thinks she only did what was required of a good paramedic with 13 years’ experience. She concedes it was a serious emergency situation, but she and her partner moved fast and gave the correct care.
That much was evident when Becky saw Kathleen and Greg--alive and well--a few weeks later at a community event in Sellersville. Both mother and son thanked Becky for making the right decisions that day and staying with Greg until she transferred care over to the ER physician and charge nurse.
“I certainly felt that Becky went well above and beyond in this situation.” says Greg. “I am so supremely thankful for her assistance in saving my life.
“It sounds so cliché,” Becky says, “but we were just doing our job.”