Batter Up, Pitcher Down!
The softball game that nearly took a life
August 11, 2010 seemed like any other normal Wednesday for David Hall. He got up in the morning, worked a full day at the pharmacy in Troy, and then headed out to the softball diamond to pitch for his team in their regular Wednesday night game. He had no idea that the calculated wind-up he was performing could have very well been his last. David suffered a massive heart attack.
Things arent always what they seem. At the time, David Hall was the picture of health, or so he thought. He was athletic and active, watched what he ate, stayed within his optimal weight, and exercised regularly. But lurking just below his seemingly healthy exterior was a time bomb. David suffered a massive cardiac infarction. His left anterior distending artery, commonly referred to as the widow maker for obvious reasons, was 100% blocked; along with 80% of a major coronary artery on his right side: a lethal combination that could have easily taken his life.
In the days and even months prior to his heart attack, David noticed no changes in his health. No shortness of breath, no chest pain, no numbness, and no arm pain. Not long ago, I had all of my blood work done, and everything came back normal - my cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. Everything was fine. It was business as usual; I thought that I was in great health, stated Hall.
All of that changed on August 11. While standing on the pitchers mound, David literally dropped over dead. I collapsed and was dead before I hit the ground. The last thing that I remember before the heart attack was standing at the pitchers mound, Hall stated. Quick acting team mates rushed over to Hall to perform CPR while on-lookers called 911. Shawn Thrasher, EMPT, and Paramedic for St. Johns, along with other Troy Volunteer Ambulance members arrived on the scene in less than four minutes.
When I first arrived at the softball diamond, David had no pulse and was not breathing on his own. His teammates were performing CPR. We relieved them and got a breathing tube put in him. After we tubed him, his pulse came back on its own and we got him in the ambulance for transport to St. Johns Lutheran Hospital, stated Thrasher. During the transport, Halls heart was beating on its own, but the paramedics continued to breathe for him.
Having been notified of Davids condition, Dr. Brian Barstad, ER Physician for St. Johns Lutheran Hospital, was waiting for Davids arrival. Because of his experiences at larger cardiac facilities, Dr. Barstad immediately ordered a CAT scan to determine if there was any bleeding in Davids cranial cavity. The knowledge that Hall was not bleeding is what allowed Dr. Barstad to quickly make the decision to administer Retivase, a hi-tech clot busting drug that saved Davids life. We are so fortunate to have this caliber of physician in our remote area. Had Dr. Barstad not known to take the actions that he did, well I shutter to ponder the outcome, declared Hall. After they administered the drug, they packed me in ice to bring my body temperature down, and I was flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center in the ALERT helicopter. Thats where I woke up three days later, with my children by my side, wondering what had happened to me.
While at KRMC, Dr. Alan Williams of Rocky Mountain Heart and Lung performed emergency heart surgery, putting in three stints. Dr. Williams told me that I owe Dr. Barstad a huge debt of gratitude for his quick thinking in administering the Retivase, remembered Hall.
Now, David is almost back to his old self. Just over a month from the incident, he is doing cardiac rehab at St. Johns three days a week, and is back to work full time. Im already doing nearly everything Ive always done. Id say that Im at about 75%, but I feel just as great as I did the day before it all happened. Im ready to get back to life as it used to be as soon as the doctors tell me that I can.
Most people who have a heart attack of this magnitude dont survive it, and the ones that do generally suffer unrecoverable damage to the heart muscle. David sustained no long term damage.
Many rural hospitals are limited in the care they provide. They are usually deemed as receiving stations to transport complicated cases to larger facilities, providing limited care in emergency situations, commented KC Hoyer, Marketing Manager at St. Johns. In keeping with our mission to provide excellent healthcare close to home, St. Johns goes the extra mile. We employ paramedics who can administer IV drugs and intubate in the field. We staff a physician in our emergency department 24/7, 365 days a year. We do this because its the right thing to do in remote areas like ours. Its costly, but what price do you put on a life?
David Halls life wasnt saved by just one man, but by a symphony of healthcare professionals that had the right tools to do their jobs and the passion to save lives.
Its truly a miracle that I am sitting here today telling you my story, Hall said. I am so thankful to everybody who helped save my life on August 11. Without all of the people who were there to help me, I wouldnt be standing here today. If one single link in the chain had been broken, I would be dead stated Hall. I had many angels on my team that evening and I thank God for each and every one of them.