Extraordinary “chain of survival” involving family, first responders and the hospital saved the patient’s life, as less than 1% of people undergoing CPR for more than 60 minutes survive with favorable neurological outcomes.
OCEANSIDE, CA – Tri-City Medical Center announced today that an extraordinary “chain of survival” involving family, first responders and the hospital saved David Mills’ life after he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at home caused by ventricular fibrillation, or VFib. VFib is a malfunction of the heart’s normal rhythm that can be fatal if not treated within minutes as the heart stops pumping blood to the body, including the brain and lungs.
“David, who is 67 and retired, underwent a total of 70 minutes of in- and out-of-hospital CPR, whereas the average CPR duration is about 25 to 30 minutes,” said Andrew Fischer, MD, FACEP, DiDMM, an Emergency Medicine specialist and Base Hospital Medical Director at TCMC. “Medical data indicates that after about 45 minutes and definitely beyond 60 minutes, the chances of survival and having a favorable neurological outcome are less than 1%. This is why David’s survival and full recovery is so amazing.”
The chain of survival began when his wife, Georgia, heard him make some strange noises and found him unconscious with no pulse. She immediately called 911, while her 25-year-old grandson, Jacob, began doing CPR with guidance from the 911 operator.
“Starting CPR immediately is critical as the brain can only go about four to six minutes without oxygen before permanent damage occurs,” said Dr. Fischer who treated David upon his arrival to the ER. “Too often, bystanders wait for the paramedics to arrive, which can be too late. People who go into SCA still have residual oxygen in their blood and hands-only CPR can keep that blood circulating until help gets there.”
In David’s case, first responders from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department arrived on scene within five minutes and continued CPR until the Vista Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter. Since VFib is a “shockable rhythm,” the EMTs and paramedics used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart and attached him to a mechanical CPR device that provides automated chest compressions.
“Tri-City is one of seven base station hospitals in San Diego County, meaning we provide EMTs responding to a 911 call with medical direction while they are enroute to the nearest hospital,” said Dr. Fischer. “The call came into our radio room that the patient was on his way and that there had been a ‘witnessed arrest’ – the wife was there when it happened – and ‘bystander CPR’ from his grandson, which were positive signs.”
“Knowing these parameters and that his heart was still in VFib with a shockable rhythm, we continued CPR with minimal interruptions during our assessment,“ added Dr. Fischer.
The team at TCMC continued to treat David with antiarrhythmic drugs and other medications, as well as targeted temperature management, which lowered his core body temperature to between 32°C and 36°C (89.6 to 96.8°F). This mild induced hypothermia improves survivability and neurologic outcomes.
TCMC cardiologists inserted a stent into David’s heart as an EKG and ultrasound had revealed that his SCA was caused by an inferior myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, due to a blocked artery. David continues to recover, stating that he feels “physically stronger every day and is emotionally very optimistic about his future.”
“Tri-City has long been recognized as a center of excellence for the most critical of patients, including those who suffer a SCA,” said Tri-City Medical Center’s President and CEO, Gene Ma, MD, FACEP, himself an ER physician. “This is yet another demonstration of the exemplary collaboration of our teams working together to deliver exceptional care for the betterment of our community.”
About Tri-City Medical Center
Tri-City Medical Center has served our community for more than 60 years and is one of the largest employers in North San Diego County. As a full-service acute care hospital with three primary care clinics and over 500 physicians practicing in over 60 specialties, Tri-City is vital to the well-being of our community and serves as a healthcare safety net for many of our citizens. The hospital has received a Gold Seal of Approval® from the Joint Commission showcasing a commitment to safe and effective patient care for the residents of the community.
Tri-City Medical Center prides itself on being the home to leading orthopedic, spine and cardiovascular health services while also specializing in world-class women’s health, robotic surgery, cancer and emergency care. Tri-City’s Emergency Department is there for your loved ones in their time of need and is highly regarded for our heart attack and stroke treatment programs. When minutes matter Tri-City is your source for quality compassionate care close to home. The hospital operates the largest Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in North County. Tri-City partners with more than 80 local non-profit and community organizations as part of our COASTAL Commitment community outreach initiative. Together we are helping tackle some of our communities’ pressing health and social needs.
For more information about Tri-City Medical Center and Tri-City Healthcare District, please visit tricitymed.org.