SMYRNA, Tenn. — Providence was on Michael Campbell’s side July 29 when an ambulance brought him to TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center in Smyrna.
A former Army Ranger and police officer, Campbell was having a heart attack, but he was about to experience the medical staff from the emergency room and cardiac catheterization lab give everything they had to save his life that night.
The staff from the StoneCrest emergency room — Aga Leniart, Bonnie Bingham and Thomas Shanteau — and the cath lab — Tommy Atwood, Julie Favazza and Valerie Waggoner — were honored by hospital CEO Lou Caputo Sept. 20 in a pinning ceremony for their perseverance and dedication in saving Campbell’s life. Equally important but not present was ER nurse Matt Wiley.
The ER staff used the defibrillator to shock Campbell’s heart 19 times, all the while performing CPR. He was shocked two more times in the cath lab for a total of 21 times, Favazza said.
“I’ve never seen a patient recover after being shocked so many times,” Favazza said about her 12 years as a nurse. “It feels good to help someone who helped us.”
Lucky for Campbell, the staff at StoneCrest fought for nearly two hours to save his life.
“We didn’t stop because he was still fighting,” ER nurse Thomas Shanteau said.
As the ER nursing staff worked to keep Campbell alive long enough for the cardiac cath lab staff to be called from their beds in the middle of the night, Shanteau urged them on, to not quit because the former Army Ranger’s life was in their hands.
“This is why we do the things we do. … He was a hero for his country and you were a hero for him,” Caputo said Tuesday morning.
Campbell’s troubles started at round 2 a.m. July 29. He was showering after working out at his 24-hour gym where he was trying to add muscle to his frame with weight training, the 42-year-old said.
As Campbell was soaping up, he started sweating profusely and felt a tension in his jaw, he described. He finished showering and dialed 911, telling the dispatcher he thought he was having a heart attack.
By the time the ambulance arrived, the tension had spread to his chest and he was experiencing shortness of breath. The paramedics loaded him into the ambulance and hooked him to a portable electrocardiogram that transmitted his heart rhythms to the StoneCrest ER prior to his arrival.
At 3:15 a.m., Campbell was pushed into the emergency room.
“I thought they were going to tell me it was gas,” Campbell said, laughing at the celebration Tuesday morning.
But then Dr. Angeline Brunetto and the nurses ran in and cut his shirt off.
By 3:21 a.m., the cath lab was called in.
“The two things I kept thinking were about my daughter and how I didn’t want to add any nightmares to these guys (at the hospital),” Campbell said.
As cardiologist Dr. Ram Sharma took Campbell’s medical history and symptoms, the worst possible thing happened; Campbell’s heart stopped.
The nurses and doctors sprang into action, performing CPR to keep his blood circulating, but his heart wouldn’t start on its own again.
As the chest compressions continued, the nurses — Shanteau, Leniart, Bingham and Wiley — took turns, only breaking to switch places and try to shock Campbell’s heart back into rhythm with a defibrillator. After 19 shocks his heart still wouldn’t beat.
“I thought I would die before the cath lab (staff) got there,” Campbell said.
The cath lab staff arrived at 3:35 a.m. and by 4:35 a.m., the lab was ready.
As they wheeled him down the hallway for an emergency angioplasty and stent, Leniart jumped on the stretcher, straddled Campbell and kept the compressions going.
All Campbell remembers of the experience is a woman pressing on his chest and lights flashing overhead as he was rushed from the ER to the cath lab.
Sharma, Waggoner, Favazza and Atwood were ready to save the man’s life.
“My hands have never moved faster,” Waggoner said.
Once Sharma inflated the balloon and cleared the blockage, Campbell’s blood started flowing again, Atwood added.
“And we all cheered,” Waggoner said.
It was 4:55 a.m.
“It was magical. There was something special about that night,” Atwood said.
Now almost two months later, Campbell, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before working as a police officer, said he’s no hero. The men and women at StoneCrest are the real heroes, he said.
“They all knew the right amount of everything to give,” Campbell said, calling them supermen who never knew when to give up.
Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com