Local resident celebrates anniversary of successful resuscitation with Leduc Fire Services

Monday, June 11, 2018

May 4, 2017 started off like any other day in the Scott household. Debra had plans to pack for a camping trip with friends, yet those plans changed quickly when she went into cardiac arrest.

“My hands and jaw cramped up and I knew something was wrong,” she says.

Fortunately, her son Mac was at home and able to contact emergency services. Within minutes Leduc Fire Services (LFS) had an ambulance at her door. A fire engine with LFS cross-trained members followed soon after to provide additional support.

Firefighter/ACP Scott Wierenga and firefighter/PCP Ryan Sweeney noted she was visibly upset and decided to take her to the ambulance.

“We put her on the cardiac monitor and saw there were changes that needed to be addressed,” says Wierenga.

Debra went into cardiac arrest while in the ambulance. Wierenga and Sweeney worked to resuscitate her, and in consultation with a cardiologist made the decision to transport Debra to the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. Although she doesn’t quite recall the ambulance ride, she remembers repeatedly saying her chest hurt.

“I was relieved to hear her talking. It was bricks off the shoulder,” Sweeney says.

Mac and her husband, Ian, met the crew outside the cardiac catheterization lab relieved to know Debra had made it to the hospital safely. Ian recalls it was a nerve wracking few hours for them as Debra was in surgery to have three stents put into her heart.

Hospital staff told the Scotts that at age 44, Debra had suffered from Sudden Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), a rare condition in which one of the arteries develops a tear causing blood to flow between the layers and forces them apart.

“That’s the last thing I expected. I thought I was a healthy person,” says Debra. “It was just a shocking, shocking situation.”

A year later Debra is well on the road to recovery. She went back to work within two months. Six months after her surgery she climbed the Great Wall of China, and on June 1st she went to Fire House 1 to personally thank Wierenga and Sweeney. And just like the day she met them, there were a lot of hugs.

“I have way more appreciation for what you do,” Ian says, adding sirens are very much a welcome sound to his family.

Fire Chief George Clancy says the fire service model run by LFS is a point of pride for the City of Leduc. The majority of the members are cross trained as both firefighters and primary care paramedics or advanced care paramedics. The City of Leduc is responsible to provide two advanced life support ambulances under contract to Alberta Health Services to the City of Leduc and region. Our two ambulances are extremely busy, and when both ambulances are working at assigned emergent events we can provide support from our on-shift engines. Staff assigned to both engines can provide medical support at a basic life support up to advanced life support depending on staff complement.

“We’re always trying to echo the benefits of this model,” he states. “I’m so proud of the system we have, and it’s a model that responds well and addresses our citizens' emergent needs.”

City of Leduc Fire Services operate under a composite, integrated staffing model of career firefighters, firefighter/EMTs, firefighter/paramedics and paid on-call firefighters. Leduc Fire Services professionals respond to fire and rescue calls, along with medical incidents. Depending on their level of training, they will also respond using basic and/or advanced life support interventions.