Knocking on death's door, but nobody home -- again Howard rescuers help bring man back to life a 2nd time.

May 01, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

"Not too many people can say 'I've died twice,' " John D. Jerome remarked about the man he and his fellow Howard County rescue workers helped bring back to life for the second time in two months.

Jerome had thought it was miraculous enough that heart-attack victim Milton F. Quasney, 63, of the 8400 block of Church Lane, was revived on March 6 after collapsing in his home. But he doesn't know how to explain the resilience Quasney is showing while trying to recover from "death" a second time.

"It's unbelievable," said Jerome, a cardiac rescue technician at the Howard County Fire and Rescue Service, who, along with members of the same crew that revived Quasney in March, performed life-saving measures on him again yesterday morning.

"Here I was on the phone with the same physicians describing the same patient I was describing two months ago," he said. "It's incredible."

Strangely, Quasney suffered a heart attack while preparing to thank Jerome and other rescue workers for rescuing him in March. He was attending a "gift-of-life" ceremony coordinated by the Fire Department when his automatic defibrilator indicated heart trouble. The defibrilator is a device that was implanted in Quasney after the first heart attack to detect failure and maintain a heartbeat.

The device activated at 8:40 a.m., about 20 minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to begin in the Howard County government building.

"We were carrying on a very brief conversation when he indicated that his automatic defibrilator had fired," said Battalion Chief Donald Howell, a Fire Department spokesman.

Howell said rescue workers -- 24 were gathering at the government building for honors yesterday -- took the man from his seat into the building's main lobby. When the device continued to activate, they took him to the nearby County Council lobby. But he "lapsed into cardiac arrest" and his pulse stopped, Howell said.

He regained his pulse 15 minutes later. Rescue workers then transported him to Howard County General Hospital, where he was stabilized before being driven to Johns Hopkins Hospital with Jerome and rescue workers David Carroll and Lt. Michael Gearhart.

During the drive, he regained consciousness.

"I rubbed him on the foot and said, 'Milton, you have the whole Howard County Fire Department pulling for you,' " Jerome said. "He said, 'Thank you, buddy.' "

Firefighters involved in the rescue credited teamwork for saving the man's life, although they realized that he remained in danger.

"This man was out. He was gone," said Gearhart, who provided oxygen during the ride to Hopkins.

"There was a feeling of euphoria [when he awakened], knowing you had done something to reverse a major crisis. The ironic part is it's difficult to recover from this once in a lifetime. What are the odds of that happening twice?"

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