Posted by jackrivers47 on 04/19/2013
Jack Rivers, Youngsville, NC – 63 at time of event (2011)
Jack Rivers, Youngsville, NC – 63 at time of event (2011)

Jack and Davelyn had a restaurant, just a small local place, called the Bottle & Bean Bistro, north of Raleigh. The hours were a bit of a strain, maybe a bit too much for Jack because he keeled over one evening just around closing time. The cook found him on the kitchen floor and called out. Deb and Tammy, customers sampling a glass or two of wine with Davelyn, came to the rescue. Deb being a sports trainer knew CPR and Tammy - well let's just say she's now the first gynecologist with a male patient! It was around 9pm Saturday night in January, a slow night and Jack had just taken out the trash.

"I think my husband's dead!" Davelyn exclaimed. Deb and Tammy didn't think so, "He's not been out long and he's still got color and warmth," they told her while getting into the rescue breaths and compressions.

EMS arrived less than 10 minutes later, and dragged Jack out of the kitchen so they could work on him. Frightening everyone they immediately drilled into his shins to get an IV started [Intraosseous infusion*] and yet it still took 48 minutes to get a pulse, and they shocked him nine times.

The scary medical practices didn't end there. Once in hospital it was deemed necessary for Jack to be put on an oscillator** to help him breathe, in addition to the hypothermia cooling treatment.

"I had collapsed lungs, kidney failure, my right leg blew up huge, and I was in a coma for nearly four-and-a-half weeks," Jack explained. "I was given last rites three times."

However Davelyn wasn't accepting it that easily.

"She said to the doctor 'He's not leaving. I know, he's not gonna die!'," Jack said with pride. "As I came out of the coma I went into grand mal seizures [during which] the doctor said 'That was really violent!' and my wife asked 'Is that good?' [showing that] she has a sense of humor."

Eight weeks of ICU, three months in hospital and he finally goes home. "My daughter calls it 'My Long Nap', "Jack says, showing us the sense of humor has been passed on. "Sometime during the early days of my nap, my daughter supposedly told me, 'Dad you’re walking me down the aisle in September. If you go, I’m crossing over and dragging your dead ass back'.  I walked my daughter down the aisle on September 17, 2011."

Jack does have a reminder of the incident, but views his limp as a sign that we are all mortal. They lost the restaurant, but have kept their gratitude for the firemen, paramedics and hospital staff.

"Last year, I was featured at the AHA Heart Ball here in Raleigh," Jack said with pride. He was also honored to give an award to Deb and Tammy for their heroic efforts as first responders.

-Jeremy Whitehead

*Intraosseous infusion - injecting directly into the marrow of a bone to provide a non-collapsible entry point into the systemic venous system. Life-threatening traumas often require immediate intravenous access for medications and fluid replacement, and this method overcomes the problem of collapsed veins due to shock.

**Oscillator ventilation is a type of mechanical ventilation which utilizes a respiratory rate greater than normal, 100s of breaths per minute but only a very small volume of air. This high frequency ventilation is thought to reduce ventilator-associated lung injury (VALI). This is also known as lung protective ventilation.