Cardiac patient reunites with first responders, EMS personnel

Early on a May morning, Desire Stevenson was at his Locust home, preparing to leave for an early work shift when he suffered a massive cardiac emergency.

Stevenson’s wife immediately called Stanly 911, setting in motion a rapid and efficient response by the West Stanly Fire Department First Responders and Stanly County Emergency Medical Services, culminating with restoration of the 48-year old’s heartbeat. This is known in the medical community as ROSC (Return Of Spontaneous Circulation).

A 10-day hospital stay followed, which included surgery to implant an internal cardioverter-defibrillator, after which Stevenson was discharged with “no significant deficits,” according to Dr. Tyler Constantine, Stanly EMS medical director.

On June 1, Stevenson was reunited with the team members whose knowledge and actions were crucial to his survival at a reception held at the Stanly County Emergency Medical Services center in Albemarle.

EMS Chief Dale Chandler welcomed those gathered for the reunion, extending credit to all involved in Stevenson’s care.

“Without the great people we have in the field here, it would make my job kind of pointless,” he said.

Constantine followed, emphasizing the importance of the “chain of survival” to victims during such emergencies.

“The whole mechanism of making this successful involves the entire linkage from beginning to end,” he said. “This starts with the person who sees the patient in distress, recognizes that condition and calls 911, to the dispatchers, to the firefighters/first responders who show up on scene, to the EMS crews who then arrive and provide additional levels of support and advanced care. Those things all have to fall in line in a really fast, really precise order for this to be successful.”

“We are very fortunate to have a survivor of cardiac arrest here today,” Constantine said in recognizing Stevenson, who was in attendance along with his children.

“We can’t take for granted how uncommon this is,” he continued. “This is a situation that, when it transpires, the likelihood of death is much greater than the flip of a coin. Things worked together in a perfect, systematic fashion in this case. We have a group of really committed folks here who train and rehearse this, and know exactly what they are supposed to do from the moment the 911 call comes in until the first person lays hands on the chest and starts to resuscitate the patient.”

Chandler then recognized those involved directly in the call, presenting each with certificates. These were: 911 dispatcher Barry Luther (who was unable to attend), 911 dispatcher Abby Lavoie, West Stanly first responder/firefighter Matt Losh, EMT Sidney Paschall and paramedic Wesli Middlebrook.

Stevenson expressed his gratitude to all involved.

“I am thankful to have back my life,” he said, adding, “they were so good, so helpful and so quick…they did a beautiful job.”

Timeline of the Stevenson Call:

• 12:51 a.m.: Call placed to Stanly County 911; dispatchers notify West Stanly Fire Department and Stanly County Emergency Medical Services;

• 12:56 a.m.: West Stanly FD/first responders arrive to find Stevenson in full cardiac arrest, initially performing CPR before activating an automated external defibrillator.

• 1 a.m.: Stanly EMS personnel arrive; provide additional and advanced care; and

• 1:16 a.m.: Stevenson’s heartbeat is restored (ROSC) and he is transported by ambulance to cardiac care.