The Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” came to life in the heroic rescue of a Boy Scout mom at Crater Lake by Boy Scout troop leaders, Crater Lake National Park staff, a vacationing physician, the Chemult Ambulance Service, Mercy Flights helicopter crew, and physicians and nurses at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Gloria Ferguson had a life-threatening heart attack and cardiac arrest in July, but was saved thanks to the quick, skilled work of these many rescuers. These individuals received the Heart Hero award from the American Heart Association at a special ceremony at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center on Saturday.
“It was the chain of care that saved her life,” says Kent Dauterman, a cardiologist at Southern Oregon Cardiology in Medford. “They rapidly identified the problem, knew what to do based on their training, and were brave enough to act. Everything happened as it should which made all the difference.”
Gloria, fit and active math and science teacher from Vancouver, Washington, was bicycling with her 13-year-old son’s Boy Scout troop on a five-day trip through Oregon. Their trip began at Crater Lake where she noted chest pressure riding up hills, but wrote it off to altitude sickness. Anne and Terry Ogle, two alert Boy Scout leaders, saw what they thought were signs of heart attack. They insisted on taking her by car to the park entrance station for help.
When they arrived at the north entrance station, they summoned help from park Visitor Use Assistant, Chris Reinhardt. Reinhardt spoke with Gloria and got details of her symptoms which he radioed to park dispatch who notified park emergency responders. Due to the nature and location of the incident, they immediately requested helicopter rescue from Mercy Flights as well as assistance from the Chemult Ambulance Service, the closest emergency provider outside of the park.
As Reinhardt spoke with Gloria, she went into cardiac arrest and lost consciousness. Reinhardt removed her from the vehicle and began CPR.
“I heard someone running down the line of cars shouting for a doctor,” says Genevieve King, MD, a San Francisco Bay-area physician who was on vacation with her husband. “That’s you, hon,” her husband said. Dr. King rushed to Gloria where the Scout leaders were already doing chest compressions. She stepped in and kept the CPR going until a ranger medic and other park personnel arrived.
The Park Service emergency responders were a, “Well-oiled machine,” says Dr, King. “What a team.” They used an automatic external defibrillator (AED), and Park Service medic Jason Ramsdell administered cardiac drugs to restart Gloria’s heart rhythm. Dr. King continued to monitor as the Chemult ambulance arrived on scene and provided assistance.
Minutes later, the Mercy Flights helicopter, the next link in the chain, touched down nearby. The Mercy Flights team connected Gloria to an EKG and radioed in results to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center emergency staff as they sped their way to Medford some 60 miles away. This activated the STEMI protocol for people with severe heart attacks. Dr. Dauterman and his heart attack team were ready for Gloria when she arrived. Dr. Dauterman met them at the helicopter and took her directly to the cardiac catheterization lab, grabbing Dr. Ken Buccino, the emergency department physician, along the way. In just 29 minutes, Dr. Buccino had placed the patient on a ventilator and Dr. Dauterman and his team had reopened Gloria’s blocked arteries, restoring blood flow to her heart muscle. During the first hour in the hospital, she had twelve episodes of ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia requiring electric shocks to restart her heart.
But the chain of care was not over. Gloria was taken to the critical care unit where intensive care nurses and physicians used the newest hypothermia technology to lower her body temperature to minimize brain swelling. She was rewarmed two days later and regained consciousness five days after her cardiac arrest.
Gloria returned home to her family in twelve days. She has resumed work full time. “I don’t remember what happened,” says Gloria, “But I am so thankful that everyone was ready, that everyone knew what to do. I am so lucky to be alive today and to be with my family.”
“This resuscitation exemplifies what can happen when each link in the chain of survival works,” says Dr. Dauterman. “The prompt recognition of cardiac symptoms by the Boy Scout leaders, the quick decision to head to the ranger station, the “fast and deep” chest compressions, the AED availability and its prompt and proper use, the rapid arrival and transport of a critically ill patient by helicopter, the direct transport from the helipad to the awaiting cath lab to emergently open the blocked artery, the cardiac support with intra-aortic balloon pumping, the subsequent hypothermia protocol to prevent brain injury, and the round-the-clock vigilant care in the CCU. Her situation was precarious throughout and any failures along the way would have probably resulted in her death.”
Echoing Dr. Dauterman, Crater Lake Chief Ranger Curt Dimmick added “This incident was a great example of how park staff from several different work groups all worked together to care for a visitor in need of immediate medical attention. Beyond that, it shows how personnel from several different organizations as well as bystanders were all able to do their part in saving a life.”
That is why everyone in the chain of care will be recognized on Saturday, October 20, with the American Heart Association “Heart Heroes” award at a special recognition dinner at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Selinda Shontz, American Heart Association Vice President from Sacramento, presented the awards.
Recipients of the awards were the following:
- Crater Lake Park staff Jan Lemons, Jason Ramsdell, Chris Reinhardt, Jason Jenks, Seth Macey, Jeff Runde, and Scott Girdner
- Boy Scout leaders Anne and Terry Ogle
- San Francisco Bay area physician Genevieve King, MD
- Mercy Flights (as an organization)