Aug 22, 2017

IAEP Members Save Visiting Nurse in Their Home

A visiting nurse in the Buffalo, New York area is lucky to be alive after a heart attack on the job—because her patient and the patient’s fiance are both advanced care providers with Twin City Ambulance and members of IAEP Local 02-394.

Lynn Howard, a 42-year-old member of the visiting Nurse Association of Western New York, was visiting a new patient on July 29. Sarah Pajak, an AEMT with Twin City Ambulance, was recovering from abdominal surgery. As Howard met with Pajak and her partner and fiance, paramedic Jeffrey Luke, she said she didn’t feel well and suddenly became unresponsive.

“When we’re on duty, we have a few minutes between getting the call and arriving at an emergency,” Luke told the IAEP. “You can prepare yourself mentally. This time we were on the opposite side of things. It’s a whole lot different when it’s here.”

Despite that difference, Luke and Pajak snapped right into action. Luke checked for vital signs and didn’t find a pulse. He began CPR immediately, while Pajak assisted and called 9-1-1. “I kept wanting to help and I wasn’t supposed to be going up and down the stairs [a few days after abdominal surgery],” said Pajak. “Once the adrenaline kicked in, I ran the stairs three days post-op, looking for a bag-valve mask.” (The couple also performs EMS training and often has limited equipment on the premises.)

Firefighters and EMS responded within minutes. Howard was transported to nearby Mercy Hospital, where she was stabilized.

The couple told representatives from the visiting nurse association that they would like to follow Howard’s condition, if her family consented. The VNA passed the information to her family, who contacted Pajak and Luke themselves, eager to thank the couple for saving Lynn Howard’s life.

After: recognition, new family, and advice

Howard has been released from the hospital and is expected to be fine. Meanwhile, her family and the couple have become friends. “Maybe two days later we met the family. They made it clear they consider us members of the family,” Luke said. In fact, Luke and Pajak expect Howard and her family to attend their upcoming wedding.

Friends and community members have praised the couple, as well. “A few places we go, people do a double-take. ‘Hey, you’re from that news story!’”

The couple also has a great story to emphasize the importance of people NOT in EMS learning CPR. “They pound into our heads in CPR training the odds of survival. From the early recognition [of cardiac arrest] to immediate CPR,” Luke admitted. “We can see the whole chain now. It was very nice on a personal level to be part of the happy conclusion.”
Luke and Pajak urged everyone who is able to get certified for CPR. (The American Red Cross offers CPR training—check here for providers near you.)

We at the IAEP thank Luke and Pajak for their quick action and congratulate them on their upcoming marriage!

You can see the original local news story at here

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Sarah Pajak and Jeff Luke, members of IAEP Local 02-394 at Twin Cities Ambulance, during a recent interview with WGRZ TV Channel 2 in Buffalo, NY.
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