Windsor Severance Fire Rescue saves woman’s life with cardiocerebral resuscitation | MyWindsorNow.com

Windsor Severance Fire Rescue saves woman’s life with cardiocerebral resuscitation

James Redmond
jredmond@greeleytribune.com

— Almost a month ago, Windsor resident Susie Orozco died.

Orozco and the Windsor Severance Fire Rescue firefighters and EMTs credit new CPR training and techniques for bringing her back.

Orozco, 64, doesn't remember anything from the four days after her heart attack. When she came home from the hospital, Fire Chief Herb Brady — who she now calls her fairy godfather — came over to her house, sat down and told her what happened and how they managed to save her life.

Saving a life after a heart attack is rare. Windsor Severance Fire Rescue officials hope replacing the more traditional CPR with cardiocerebral resuscitation might change that.

Brady lives a few houses down the block from Orozco. When he heard the 911 call come in he ran over to her house and started performing cardiocerebral resuscitation. He managed to bring her back to life for a moment, but her heart stopped again just as the emergency responders arrived. He worked with the emergency crews, kept up cardiocerebral resuscitation before they shocked her twice and gave her an Amiodarone infusion.

Orozco's heart started again and she woke up.

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She went to Medical Center of the Rockies. By the time crews left MCR, she was joking with them, Brady said.

Earlier this year, Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Community Outreach Coordinator Chantelle Dron started researching communities with the highest survival rates. She wanted to find out how they did it.

She found communities with high survival rates. Many of them used cardiocerebral resuscitation, or CCR.

Cardiocerebral resuscitation has a simple premise; it forgoes the rescue breaths of CPR in favor of nonstop chest compressions.

The chest compressions essentially mimic the heartbeat, Dron said.

"The average heart beats 72 times per minute, it beats thousands of times in a day, and when we take over being that person's heart we have to mimic that as much as possible," she said. "In the past when we were pausing to deliver breaths, or any other kind of medical treatment, and we were actually decreasing blood flow to the heart and brain, which led to worse outcomes and survival rates."

The success rates of CCR surprised Dron when she found it in her research. She didn't realize an alternative with so much promise existed. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 showed the survival rate tripled for out-of-hospital heart attack victims in two metropolitan cities with the introduction of this new treatment technique. In rural Wisconsin a similar study — published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2006 — showed survival rates more than doubled with the implementation of CCR training.

"It's exciting," Dron said. "I think a lot of places around our country are unaware of it still."

She's passionate about this. Her dad died from a cardiac arrest in 2012, and it drove her to become an EMT and firefighter. Finding CCR and bringing it to Windsor meant maybe she could save someone else from experiencing the same loss she did.

This year Windsor Severance Fire Rescue crews started Advanced Resuscitation Training — pioneered by UC San Diego Health's Center for Resuscitation Science and Dr. Daniel Davis — and practicing the concepts of CCR.

Last month, when they saved Orozco's life, it was the first time they had used the new method from start to finish.

Now Windsor Severance Fire Rescue officials have championed CCR and encouraged northern Colorado hospitals and ambulance systems to incorporate the training and concepts.

"We've been talking with hospitals and our ambulance system here has taken it on for the most part," Dron said. "We're trying to get everyone in northern Colorado to learn these techniques so we can have that continuum of care and … that increase in survival rates"

At first, area hospital and ambulance officials met the change with a little skepticism, which was not entirely surprising she said. It's different.

But heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, and Windsor Severance Fire Rescue has been able to show them the results of the change, so they're getting on board.

"It's a big system and there are a lot of people to train, so we've just been trying to get the word out as much as possible to take it seriously and move toward that approach," she said.

The hope is the change means more people don't just survive but return to life as normal, Dron said.

A few week after her heart attack, Orozco visited Windsor Severance Fire Station 1. She wanted to meet the men and women who saved her life.

Her husband, Nick, and her 15-year-old granddaughter, Sara Aguirre, went with her.

She walked in the door in tears and wearing a huge smile. In her arms she carried a basket of homemade jams and pickled foods she had canned herself.

Each firefighter hugged her. She held every embrace for a long time before stepping back and looking at each one.

"I have to see your faces because I don't remember them," she said from behind tears with a voice that broke under the weight of her emotions.

A silence fell over the room.

"Why did you have to cut my new bra in half?" she asked.

The joke and her laugh cut through the room, breaking the reverent silence, and a chorus of laughter erupted from the firefighters.

"You're feisty," Brady told her as he stood next to her in the fire station. "We don't always get to see the results of our efforts and meet them firsthand."

Orozco said she was trying to memorize their faces because they were important to her. But she thinks about their hands.

"Their hands gave me my life back," she said.

Learn more

Windsor Severance Fire Rescue offers free community cardiocerebral resuscitation classes,

Learn more about the classes and about Windsor Severance Fire Rescue online at: http://www.wsfr.us.

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