August 16, 2016, began as an ordinary day. Elaine Lewis waved goodbye to her husband and set about doing her household chores, putting forth extra effort since her sister from California was coming for a visit. While polishing furniture in her Godfrey home, however, she began to feel funny.
“My ears, eyes and hands itched and I thought I was having an allergic reaction,” Elaine said. “When my throat started to close up, I went to the kitchen for some Benadryl.”
That’s when she passed out. And then her lucky stars aligned.
Elaine’s sister-in-law, Barb Epperheimer, had just stopped by on a whim. Elaine’s mother-in-law, who lives with her, was wearing a Lifeline and they pushed the button to summon help.
Just four minutes after receiving the call, the Godfrey Fire Department arrived on the scene. Three minutes later, an Alton Memorial Hospital EMS crew arrived and Elaine was loaded into the ambulance. EKG monitoring was initiated and a 12-lead EKG revealed an active STEMI. A STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction) is a full-blown heart attack caused by the complete blockage of an artery.
The EKG report was transmitted to the hospital. When Elaine arrived at Alton Memorial, Dr. Robert Lutan and the cardiac catheterization lab staff were ready and waiting. A little more than 90 minutes after the initial call went out, Elaine was rolled into the intensive care unit.
After four days in the hospital, Elaine was ready to go home.
“Now I feel wonderful,” Elaine said. “I felt so hopeless lying on the floor. I wanted help and it came. The ambulance crew assured me that I would be OK, they were going to take care of me. They gave me hope, because I just wasn’t ready to leave this earth yet.”
Thanks to the hospital’s Duck Pluckers, Deer Skinners & Fish Hookers annual fund-raising event, ambulances are equipped with state-of-the- art technology to provide patients in cardiac arrest the Bluetooth advantage for a good outcome. Following Elaine’s call for help, the EMS crew responded in the newest donated ambulance on its first day in operation.