When Cindy Jardine complained of back pain on an otherwise ordinary spring day, her husband was concerned.
“Do you think this could be your heart?” Dick Jardine asked his wife, turning off the TV and following her up the stairs to get her situated on the couch with ice packs.
“‘No, it’s not my heart!’” Cindy said back to him.
Six months later, Cindy can laugh at her now-naïve response, but she’s serious now, hoping to help others, after that seemingly unconnected symptom was actually the first sign of a heart attack.
Cindy’s chest didn’t hurt. Her left arm felt fine. She didn’t feel short of breath. But while she had a history of lower back pain, this pain — in the middle of her back — was something new. And it became excruciating.
“I was blessed that Dick was in the house and recognized that something was not right and was ready to come up and do his Vietnam response,” said Cindy.
The “Vietnam response” she mentioned refers to Dick’s time in the military when he performed CPR countless times as part of a medevac team.
Seeing your wife of more than 50 years suffer cardiac arrest in your living room may be different than helping soldiers in the middle of a war, but instinct kicked in, and Dick went into action.
“I knew I had to get her on a flat surface,” he recalled, “She was gone.”
He immediately dialed 911, made sure the front door was unlocked for first responders, and started compressions.
“We’re lucky to live in Twin Falls. I mean we really are,” Dick said. “I bet you it wasn’t two and a half minutes before that officer was through the door and taking over … the house filled up so quick I couldn’t believe it.”
Cindy and Dick were able to recently meet some of the people who saved her life at Magic Valley Paramedics Station 1 in Twin Falls.
Dan Shawver told Cindy she looked great when she walked in the room. Shawver, an EMS supervisor with Magic Valley Paramedics (which is owned and operated by St. Luke's), was quick to recognize the police officers, firefighters and QRU members that are critical in an emergency response.
“There’s a lot of players involved, not just us,” he told the Jardines. “You saw for yourself the kind of response that you get here.”
Cindy thanked the group profusely, passing out homemade cookies packaged with individual notes of “heartfelt thanks.”
And it truly was a group effort. Magic Valley Paramedics practices high-performance CPR, that focuses on quality compressions with minimal interruptions.
“It’s a concept that’s catching on more and more, but we adopted it early,” explained Randy Morris, a clinical educator with Magic Valley Paramedics. “Every two minutes, we switch. Every two minutes, somebody else is doing compressions so that you don’t get tired. When you get tired, your compressions aren’t as deep, they’re not as fast and we don’t want to do that.”
Shawver described it as “pit-crew style,” explaining that Magic Valley Paramedics practices with the vast network of area first responders so that everyone is on the same page and ready to jump in when needed.
“…we make every effort to have a resuscitative approach right there on the living room floor,” he said.
The phrase “high-performance CPR” was new to Dick Jardine.
“It wasn’t even talked about like that,” he said of CPR during his time in Vietnam. “It wasn’t as professional as what you’re hearing today.”
But he quickly understood the quality compressions his wife received for approximately 30 minutes.
“All her organs were failing, and if you hadn’t have done the CPR, she wouldn’t be here today, because you kept all those organs alive” he told the group. “And the only reason she’s alive is because you did CPR right.”
While Dick thanked the emergency responders, the team also thanked him for his part in saving his wife’s life.
“The reality is, none of us would have had a job to do had you not done your job first, that really is the truth,” Morris said. “The fact that there was good bystander CPR, good recognition, that is the single most important thing that buys us time to do what we do.”
Magic Valley Paramedics has been awarded the American Heart Association EMS Mission Lifeline Gold award for eight consecutive years — a rarity in EMS across the nation. This award in based on outcomes, records and training.
“It really is something we are proud of, and this case is a good reason,” Morris said.
Cindy has had a busy six months since receiving CPR — she had a heart stent placed in the hospital, received home health visits for a month and recently graduated from cardiac rehab.
“I’m used to being active and I’m ready to go out and be active again. Thankfully, I can do that,” Cindy said. “Many, many, many thanks.”
Kelly Franson is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.