Kris Saxon played it down, describing the South Pasadena Fire Department’s successful effort last week in saving an elderly woman’s life after she suffered a heart attack.
“It’s what we’re trained to do,” said Saxon, a captain with the department following the rescue mission. “Sure, it feels good to help someone, but that’s our job.”
The victim in her early 70s might think differently knowing that SPFD paramedics revived her before being cared for by cardiologists.
Saxon said he and fellow firefighters were fortunate to initially locate the woman after responding to the 911 emergency call at about 3 p.m. on June 19. “We heard from a third party, the victim’s daughter, telling us that her mother was experiencing shortness of breath but she didn’t have an address to her mom’s apartment, just an apartment number.”
The daughter, who resides in Santa Clarita, could only provide cross streets – Raymondale and Amberwood Drive – so members of the station’s main fire truck, Engine 81, and paramedics in the department’s emergency unit split up, sirens blaring, one going to one part of the area, the other to another.
“We were just going to start looking for apartments, looking for the correct number,” the captain, who was in Engine 81, explained. “Shortly after we pulled up, there was a man flagging us down. He said the daughter had actually called him and he had gotten into the mom’s apartment and found her conscious on the bed.”
A call was made to the paramedic unit, which quickly caught up with the paramedics, informing them where to go.
“As it turns out, the address we originally were given was incorrect, but we updated dispatch,” noted Saxon. “Luckily, the apartment manager knew which apartment the lady lived in.”
Once inside the unit, fire department officials found the lady “looking lethargic,” Saxon explained. “All her vitals were looking good. She did not want to go to the hospital.”
Hooked up to the heart monitor, Saxon said the woman showed immediate indications of a possible heart attack. “She still didn’t want to go, saying she was fine,” continued fire captain. “She just wanted to be left at home. We finally convinced her to go to the hospital.”
When paramedics pulled up to emergency at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, the woman, according to Saxon, went into full cardiac arrest. “One of the paramedics immediately began CPR and the other pulled out the heart monitor and hooked her up to a defibrillator and shocked her,” he said. “By the time they got her into the hospital, I want to say she was alert, breathing, her heart rate back. Before the paramedics left, she was sitting up and talking.”
The woman remained hospitalized for further tests and at one point, according to Saxon, asked why they were necessary. “She had no idea that she had gone into cardiac arrest and had been brought back by the paramedics,” he said. “They did a great job but again it came out of what we’re trained to do. It always feels good to have a positive outcome with someone like that. Not only did they do their job, but they took the extra time to convince her that she needed to go to the hospital instead of leaving her at her apartment like she was requesting.”
Had the paramedics left her behind inside the apartment Saxon says the situation would have been far different, believing she later would have gone into cardiac arrest and risked dying.
“Between us and the staff at Huntington Memorial Hospital were able to save her life,” he said, adding that the outlook for the woman making a full recovery “looked very good.”
Saxon added, “It’s a feel good, there’s no doubt about it. We were literally at the Huntington Memorial Hospital (emergency) bay when she had the heart attack.”
Yet, Saxon still makes it sound like it was all in a day’s work. “We didn’t do anything heroic,” he insisted. “We essentially ran a medical (report), went by what our findings found, took her to the hospital and she just happened to go into cardiac arrest and the paramedics did what they are supposed to do.”
Remarkably bringing her back to life.