- Paramedic Program
- Certification Courses
December 2012 (Littleton, MA) – Every week for the first nine months of 2012, Glen Thomas cycled almost 100 miles and ran another 30. He was not the guy you’d expect to have heart disease; he had zero symptoms and no known risk factors. But on a typical Tuesday morning in early October, Thomas collapsed at work in the type of sudden cardiac arrest that few survive. He credits a co-worker who knew how to administer Continuous Compression CPR and Littleton Police Sergeant Patrick O’Donoghue, who was stationed nearby and had an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in his cruiser, with saving his life.
Just nine weeks after his sudden heart attack Thomas shares his story in an effort to encourage more members of the community to understand the importance of learning these lifesaving skills. The office park in which Thomas works has installed an AED in the cafeteria and is hosting a complementary hands-only CPR class for all employees in the building on Monday, December 17.
Thomas, an employee at SANBlaze Technologies in Littleton, was having a casual conversation with a co-worker when he stopped speaking in the middle of a sentence. The co-worker peered over the cubicle wall separating them and saw that Thomas had collapsed and was unresponsive. She yelled for someone to call 9-1-1.
Another co-worker immediately jumped in to administer hands-only CPR, which involves pressing hard and fast in the center of the patient’s chest. After several minutes of applying chest compressions, the employee’s arms grew tired. He pulled in another employee and instructed him on how to continue the procedure until more help arrived.
According to the American Heart Association, almost 400,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital annually in the United States. Up to 89% of those patients die because they do not receive immediate CPR. Hands-only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR – compressions and breaths – and can even double or triple a patient’s chance of survival simply because they received some assistance.
Within minutes after Thomas’ colleagues began administering hands-only CPR, Sergeant O’Donoghue arrived on-scene. His cruiser was equipped with an automatic external defibrillator (AED), which the officer used once on Thomas according to the instructions on the instrument. That one shock revived Thomas, who felt completely alert but had no recollection of the situation. “I had no prior symptoms, no feelings of dizziness. It was just instantaneous. The next thing I know, when I came to, I had a police officer maybe nine inches from my face, leaning over me. And I didn’t know what had happened.”
Thomas was transported to Lahey Clinic, where a cardiac ablation found that one artery was 95 percent blocked. Doctors performed a single bypass that evening, and inserted two stents a couple of days later. Nine weeks after the event, Thomas has transitioned back to full-time work and has begun cardiac rehabilitation to strengthen his heart. While he’s not yet back to running 30 miles a week, he is walking a few miles each day and rides a stationary bike as part of rehab.
After witnessing Thomas’ collapse in October, SANBlaze colleague Michelle Holmes was inspired to enroll herself in a CPR class. Afterwards, she felt compelled to bring similar training to all employees in the office park.
In conjunction with the Littleton Fire Department, a free Heartsaver CPR class, which includes instruction on hands only CPR and how to use an AED, will be delivered by instructors and paramedics from Professional Ambulance (Pro EMS) and Pro EMS Center for MEDICS, the only nationally accredited paramedic education center in Massachusetts. Pro EMS and its Center for MEDICS, under the medical supervision of Emerson Hospital, work with fire departments in Littleton and seven other towns under the Central Middlesex Emergency Response Association (CMERA), a partnership among communities to create a regional EMS system that offers the highest standard of pre-hospital patient care in the state.