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STOW -- The fact that Mark Meyer is still breathing and walking the Earth is an example of a lot of things going right when they needed to.
"I'm just glad to be here," the self-employed carpenter told a group of Stow paramedics and others when he came to the fire department's Station 1 on Darrow Road to thank them May 19 for helping him after he suddenly collapsed during a heart attack at a job site April 25.
The quick response by the paramedics was only part of the equation that added up to Meyer's survival. There were at least a couple of coincidences involved as well, including the presence of Stow Building Inspector Tony Catalano, along with some fellow contractors working with the 52-year-old Meyer, and the fortuitous presence of a piece of technology that came in to the emergency room in a Hudson Fire Department ambulance.
Catalano said that earlier that morning, he received a phone call from Meyer, who lives in Cuyahoga Falls with his wife, Greta. Meyer had some questions about a set of stairs he was building in a Brighton Lane house under construction.
Later, by coincidence, Catalano conducted an inspection at a home next door and decided to go over and talk with Meyer some more. He said he and Meyer talked for about five or 10 minutes when it happened.
"As we were talking, he collapsed," said Catalano.
Catalano helped Meyer to the floor and began doing CPR as Meyer lost consciousness.
"If he had not done that, Mark would have died," said Fire Capt. Rick Hohenadel.
Meanwhile contractor Joe McShane of McShane Construction-All Enterprises, did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. McShane's brother Danny called 911. Danny McShane, who owns McShane Construction and for whom Meyer often does work, said Meyer means a lot to him.
"We used to ride the school bus. I've known him 45 years, I guess," said McShane.
Catalano said paramedics arrived within five minutes, but CPR can be quickly exhausting so he was relieved by electrician Alan Harbert after perhaps a couple of minutes.
Meyer was initially taken to the Akron General/Cleveland Clinic Medical Center on Allen Road and this was where the second coincidence comes in. Hohenadel said that at around the time the Stow ambulance arrived carrying Meyer, the Hudson ambulance arrived with another patient. It carried a Lucas 2 Chest Compression System and it was put to work on Meyer.
It is an earlier generation of a Lucas 3 automatic CPR unit that Stow recently purchased, which went into service May 16 after training was completed. It is carried in the shift commander's vehicle, which will respond to any call involving cardiac arrest.
Hohenadel said it can never be known exactly haw important the Hudson Lucas was to Meyer's survival, but Stow Fire Chief Mark Stone said it certainly helped.
"Mr. Meyer's heart was not beating on its own and our crew recognized that the Lucas device would be able to provide good, consistent CPR without tiring, as humans do," Stone told the Stow Sentry May 22. "[Stow] Firefighter Shane Ballou knew that Hudson EMS had a Lucas device and asked to borrow it. Providing good Advance Cardiac Life Support is labor intensive and drains prehospital resources as well as hospital resources quickly. The Lucas device will replace a member of the team and also allow for other invasive procedures, including defibrillation, shocking, while performing CPR. Some hospitals in the region have similar CPR devices in their emergency rooms."
While Meyer was at Station 1 May 19, he was shown the Stow unit in action on a CPR practice mannequin so that he could see what was done. He has almost no memory of what happened to him.
"All I remember is five [or seven] days later, I woke up," said Meyer.
Hohenadel told Meyer that the amount of CPR performed from start to finish was extensive.
"For 45 minutes, we were bouncing on your chest," he said.
Meyer was flown on a seven-minute helicopter flight to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. He now wears a portable external defibrillator to shock his heart back into a normal beat if it detects an irregular rhythm, called arrhythmia. He may continue to carry it or he may eventually have an internal defibrillator installed.
He said he is trying to take care of himself and hopes to be back to work in a few months. Danny McShane called Meyer "a bull."
"I quit smoking," said Meyer. "I walk about a mile a day. I want to get back to work."
Catalano said, "I'm just glad to be of help."
"Mr. Meyer is very fortunate to have so many factors benefit him that day," said Stone. "Probably the most important element that day was the early initiation of CPR by Tony Catalano, who had been trained in CPR and performed it well. But it doesn't end there; having an EMS system in place that is readily available to provide ACLS measures and transport the patient to a nearby hospital to continue care is paramount. We are very fortunate to live in an area where there is a strong EMS system."
Meyer said he knows that a lot had to go right to save his life and he is grateful to the paramedics, his co-workers and Catalano.
"Without these guys," said Meyer, "I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be alive today without everyone doing their job."
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