Los Angeles City Firefighters and Paramedics responded to a man with a heart dysrhythmia, who then went into cardiac arrest in front of rescuers on scene. Their quick actions saved his life, and he was reunited with them on Wednesday at Fire Station 62 to say thank you.
On August 6, 2022, at 11:00 AM, your LAFD received a 9-1-1 call to the 12500 block of Venice Boulevard, in the Mar Vista community of Los Angeles. Answering that 9-1-1 phone call was Firefighter/Dispatcher, Armando Diaz. Without delay, he acquired the necessary information and dispatched Engine 62 and Paramedic Rescue Ambulance 62 to the address of the emergency.
Rescuers encountered a 52-year-old man sitting in his parked car inside an underground apartment garage. He was complaining of tingling in his arm, with symptoms including cool, pale and sweaty skin, but not experiencing chest pain. They performed a detailed 12-lead EKG to evaluate the man's heart rhythm, which indicated a STEMI, which stands for “ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction." This is a serious and life-threatening heart attack with a blocked coronary artery, which is supposed to supply blood and oxygen to the pumping heart muscle. As Paramedics began setting up for treatment and transport, the situation quickly deteriorated.
Right in front of them, the man went into cardiac arrest, discontinuing blood flow to all parts of his body, and most importantly, the brain. Firefighters immediately switched gears and initiated CPR, including defibrillating the man twice with a focused electric shock to his heart. Thankfully, this immediate intervention resulted in "ROSC," which is a Return of Spontaneous Circulation, where the heart starts beating again on its own.
The patient (Mr. Anthony Taranto) regained consciousness and Firefighter/Paramedics in the back of the ambulance with him engaged Anthony in a conversation about his son, Dominic, to keep him awake during transport to the UCLA Emergency Department. Still being monitored for cardiac function, his heart rhythm began to deteriorate again. Another electric shock was indicated, but this time, the patient remained conscious while he received this shock from the hospital's Emergency Department staff. This procedure, called cardioversion (slightly different than defibrillation), restored a normal pattern to the waves in his heart.
Anthony had several things going for him on that August morning. First, when he didn't feel right, including tingling in his arm, he called 9-1-1. Second, LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics were on scene with him when he went into cardiac arrest, and provided effective CPR immediately. Third, the skilled hospital staff were ready and waiting to intervene again upon arrival to the Emergency Department at UCLA Medical Center.
This serves as a reminder that CPR saves lives, but remember, you may not have Paramedics waiting at your side when "the big one" hits your family member like a freight train. We encourage everyone to find their nearest Hands-Only CPR training and get familiar with the basic measures you can take to give your loved one the best chance when you're there during their emergency. The extra blood flow provided by doing effective chest compressions for a few extra minutes while Paramedics respond could mean the difference between life and death.
As first responders, we often do not have the opportunity to speak with those we have helped after the emergency has passed. We are so thankful that Mr. Taranto and his family took the time and effort to reunite with rescuers, and for the kind words he spoke.