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MCHD Saver Reunion

Montgomery County Hospital District hosted an EMS Save Reunion Thursday in their Board Room. The event reunited a heart attack victim whose life was saved with the 911 call taker, firefighters, medics and doctor who provided their services.

Last Christmas Eve, Jeff Smith and his wife were visiting their son in The Woodlands when they decided to go play tennis. Smith, finding respite from a Colorado winter, had already taken a bike ride that day. Even so, his son Nate says Jeff Smith was beating everyone on the tennis court when something began to happen.

“He was running around a lot and said he was taking a breather,” Nate said. “But he didn’t seem to be regaining his breath.”

When Nate and Jeff Smith’s wife, Carol, noticed he was not improving, they called 911. Response time was less than five minutes. Smith went into cardiac arrest as soon as firefighters arrived. Lt. John Cantarella, D/O Chris Norsworthy, FF Erik Secrest and FF Josh Lee began CPR. MCHD In charge, Jolene Figueroa and Attendants Austin Garza and Brad Chavers arrived shortly thereafter. District 2 Supervisor, Chris Goodrich responded to assist.

Thanks to their swift and well-trained actions, Smith regained consciousness in the ambulance and was talking en route to the ER.

Dr. Brett Monroe, former Baylor College of Medicine EMS Fellow was the receiving physician at the hospital. Smith underwent surgery and had made a full recovery. He had what is known as a STEMI, meaning “ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. The survival rate is very low for such an event. The Smith’s Colorado home is 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and another hour and a half from a hospital capable of the emergency required cardiac treatment Smith required. Had they stayed home for Christmas 2014, Jeff Smith would be dead. Instead, he was back in Montgomery County last week, welcoming his brand new granddaughter.

Nate and Carol Smith are emotional when they speak of that day, but they say Jeff Smith began joking about it when he was still in the hospital, asking them if they wanted to know what it was like “on the other side.” At first, he was unable to remember most of that day and the day before, but with time, some of his memory has returned.

Carol Smith, a nurse, recalled the panic she felt and how different it was to be in that situation with her husband than a patient. Nate Smith had to leave his mother with his father when he called 911, to go and look for a sign with the facility’s name. A passerby saw Jeff and Carol Smith and stopped and offered to call 911. Carol said she told the woman help was coming, but asked her to pray. Their prayers were answered.

When Carol Smith spoke to those who saved her husband, she thanked them for giving him back to them. The family thanked everyone involved, and everyone in the “chain of survival” from the calm voice of call-taker Cory Brown to Dr. Monroe, received a Lifesaver plaque. Jeff Smith received a plaque as well, and he will receive a photo of the entire group that will fit into the top of the plaque.

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