Posted on 04/26/2012

Mooresville, NC--When McDowell County EMS responded to a 7 a.m. call on Jan. 25, they could not have anticipated the sequence of events that would occur.

What unfolded was a near miracle – 3 ½ hours of CPR that gave life to a man on the brink of death.

EMS arrived at the scene to find 29-year-old John Letterman hypothermic and unconscious. En route to The McDowell Hospital, Letterman went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics immediately began CPR and initiated advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) protocols in an attempt to restart Letterman’s heart during a 30-minute drive to the hospital.

“EMS had already been performing CPR in the ambulance for 30 minutes, and once we received him, our hospital staff was waiting and ready to continue,” said Suzanna Berryhill, a staff nurse at The McDowell Hospital.

Part of the team performed CPR while others worked to rewarm the patient. Letterman moved his arms, motivating the team to continue their life-saving efforts.

Staff from throughout the hospital participated, along with EMS paramedics. In 210 minutes, or 3 ½ hours, a total of 28 individuals had worked with the patient.

After Letterman was revived, he was transferred to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville for further care. As a result of the resuscitation efforts and the care he received, Letterman survived. He is now at home with his family and is expected to make a full recovery.

“This call is truly remarkable,” said EMS Director William Kehler. “By far, this is the longest resuscitation McDowell EMS has ever been a part of. It was a truly humbling experience to see so many health care providers work so diligently as a team to resuscitate Mr. Letterman. Everyone came together with one common goal and gave their very best.”

Members of the McDowell County Rescue Squad and Dysartsville Volunteer Fire Department assisted in this case.

“Never in my 30 years of working in the emergency room have I seen an effort like this to save a life,” said Dr. Rex Henderson, Emergency Department medical director at The McDowell Hospital. “The fact that our team went to record lengths to bring Mr. Letterman back to life is just an example of the commitment they have to patients and the community.”

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SOURCE: The McDowell News