Teamwork Helps Save Local Man’s Life in Tornado’s Wake


When Donald’s Indian Lake community was hit by the tornado on March 14th, his home was spared but his house and neighbors were all without power. While working outside to get his well hooked to a generator, Donald realized he was having trouble breathing and headed back to his house to rest. He made it as far as his truck and started feeling weak with chest and shoulder pain. Out of breath, Donald hit the truck horn to get his wife’s attention. Soon, she was calling 911.

Already on-site nearby was the Indian Lake EMS team of Leah Edwards & Chad Kean. When they got to Donald, they knew they had to act fast. However, network servers were down in the area, and the EKG readings couldn’t be transmitted to the hospital. Leah determinedly thought on her feet and was able to call the Mary Rutan Emergency Department with preliminary readings and let the Mary Rutan team know what was coming their way. The Cath Lab and Emergency Department teams assembled and prepared for Donald’s arrival. Thanks to the skilled driving of Chad Kean, despite closed or completely blocked roads, Donald arrived to a ready-to-go team at Mary Rutan Hospital 19 minutes later. When he arrived, Donald said his “angels in scrubs” quickly got him from the Emergency Room into the Level II Cath Lab. Donald had suffered a heart attack and required an emergency heart catheterization procedure.

Niki Thomas, Director of Interventional Cardiology, said, “The teamwork and quick thinking between Indian Lake EMS, the Emergency Department, and the Cath lab team was amazing. Our goal from the time a patient comes through our doors to the time blood flow is reestablished in a patient’s heart is 60 minutes. Despite all the roadblocks along the way due to the storm, Donald’s heart had a restored blood flow in 29 minutes. It’s amazing to see that, but we have a great team here and they were ready to go.”

The Mary Rutan Level II Heart Catheterization Lab is led by board-certified interventional cardiologists Dr. Sami Aasar and Dr. Craig Siegel who offer onsite coverage 24/7/365 for these types of cardiac emergencies.

Two days later, Donald was cleared to return home. He said, “From the time I came through those Emergency Department doors to the time I was released to go home, every person I encountered was fantastic. Even the food was great! My Mary Rutan team was nothing short of incredible.” Donald is now hoping for an “uneventful April” as he recovers.

Donald wants those in his community to know that you should always call 911 when experiencing heart attack symptoms. He is thankful for the way his story turned out. “I’m just grateful,” said Donald.

*Donald’s last name is not mentioned due to privacy*