Eligio "Lee" Trevino
Husband, Father, Gratiot County Deputy Sheriff and Emergency Cardiac Patient
St. Louis, Michigan
“I know I’m very lucky to be alive.”
The Beat Goes On for Lee Trevino Thanks to Fast Response and Innovative Treatment
Lee Trevino of St. Louis is alive today because of the fast and effective intervention of first responders and the Emergency Department staff at MidMichigan Medical Center–Gratiot.
On July 7, Lee and his family spent the day enjoying the local blues festival and the evening enjoying a fireworks display. After the festivities, Lee, along with his daughter and her husband, stopped for a drink at a downtown lounge. While they were visiting, Lee suddenly collapsed. His heart and breathing stopped and he lost consciousness. Lee had suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
Someone called 9-1-1 while Lee’s daughter started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). A police officer quickly arrived and took over CPR; paramedics arrived minutes later. They used a defibrillator to get Lee’s heart beating again, loaded him into the ambulance and were on their way to nearby MidMichigan Medical Center—Gratiot.
When the ambulance arrived, Emergency Medicine Specialist Brandon Warrick, M.D., and the Emergency Department staff were waiting and ready. They were able to stabilize Lee using cutting-edge medicine that is generally available only at large, teaching facilities.
“Most people don’t survive cardiac arrest. Of those lucky enough to survive a cardiac arrest, many suffer severe brain damage,” said Paula J. Buning R.N., nurse manager for the Emergency Department. “Lee was lucky because people around him took action and got help immediately.”
“When Lee arrived at the hospital, he was completely comatose in critical condition,” Dr. Warrick said. “When his brain did not respond to life-support and reestablishing blood flow to his brain, we feared Lee may become brain dead. We began cooling his body with a treatment known as therapeutic hypothermia.”
According to Dr. Warrick, therapeutic hypothermia is a new approach for initial treatment of sudden cardiac arrest aimed at preventing brain damage. Unlike a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage in the blood vessels, cardiac arrest is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the heart. Cooling the body protects the brain and other vital organs by lowering oxygen requirements and decreasing swelling “Normal body temperature is 98.6 F. With therapeutic hypothermia, we lower the body temperature to 90 to 93 F. In Lee’s case, we used ice packs and a cooling blanket to get his core temperature down,” he said.
Paula said Lee was the first patient to receive the new therapy at MidMichigan Medical Center—Gratiot. “We just started teaching the procedure earlier this year,” she said. “Fortunately for Lee, everyone knew just what to do. In fact, the hospital to which he was transferred told us that rapid intervention, and our Emergency Department’s treatment, saved his life.”
Marilyn, Lee’s wife, said she was amazed, and extremely grateful, that the public safety officers responded so quickly. “They all knew exactly what had to be done and worked so well together,” she said. “If it had not been for everyone along the way – the police, the fire department, the doctors and nurses – we wouldn’t have Lee here today. I can’t thank them enough.”
Today, Lee is feeling well and is eager to return to his job as a Gratiot County Deputy Sheriff. While he remembers nothing of that fateful night, he, too, is grateful for the kindness of strangers, the aid from fellow public servants and the skill of the staff at the Medical Center. “I know I’m very lucky to be alive,” he said.
Whether heart attack or cardiac arrest, every second counts. Never ignore the warning signs of a heart problem. The best way to prevent irreversible damage is to dial 911 immediately.