Balloon Angioplasty Performed in Record Time Saves Jerry's Life

Jerry Crosson, 68, had just come in from the yard to get a cup of coffee when the nausea came over him. He couldn’t get comfortable lying down and went back into the bathroom. “I was standing with my hands on my knees...and that’s the last I remembered,” he says.

As Jerry passed out, his wife, Shirley, heard the bathroom door bang loudly. When she found Jerry unconscious on the floor, “I was scared lifeless,” she says. “I called 911 and put a wet towel on his face while I waited for help.” Within minutes, a squad from Turtlecreek Township Fire Department arrived at the Crossons’ Lebanon home.

Turtlecreek EMT Erin Monroe (who also works as an emergency nurse at Bethesda North) and her crew gave Jerry nitroglycerin and aspirin, inserted an IV and hooked him up to an EKG machine, a device that records electrical activity of the heart. The 12-lead machine gave paramedics an accurate picture of Jerry’s irregular heart rhythm but, even better, the newly acquired transmitter attached to the machine allowed paramedics to send the EKG reading instantaneously to Bethesda North Hospital’s Emergency Room. Doctors there confirmed a heart attack and began preparing for Jerry’s arrival, including prepping a catheterization lab.

Constant communication between the squad and ED physician during the trip from Lebanon allowed Bethesda North’s cath lab to be ready when Jerry entered the doors of the ED, saving critical minutes. Jerry recalls, “The EMT said, ‘We’ll take you directly to the cath lab.’ They weren’t walking; they were running.”

From the time he crossed the hospital threshold, it took Bethesda’s medical team 13 minutes to thread a catheter from an artery in his groin up to his coronary artery and eliminate the clot with balloon angioplasty. Although this record-breaking time is unique to Jerry’s case, Bethesda North routinely beats the national benchmark of 90 minutes for door-to-balloon time. Door-to-balloon is a measurement of time from when a heart attack patient enters emergency room doors to the time the blocked artery is opened. On average, Bethesda North’s door-to-balloon time is 67 minutes.

Bethesda North treats more heart attacks than any other facility in the region by far, and we are among the best and fastest at getting our patients to angioplasty to open the blocked coronary artery,” says Bethesda North Emergency Department Medical Director Phillip Oblinger MD.

Jerry sustained minor heart damage but knows his situation could have been much worse. He reflects, “I’m thankful I’m here and appreciate the people who kept me here. My wife, the EMTs and the hospital did a fantastic job.”

Tags: Heart

Last Updated: November 19, 2015