A Second Chance

A Second Chance
Story 54


Dr. Steven Wang: Time is tissue, as we say, and the longer that the brain is without oxygen, the more damage occurs.

Courtney Divine: High-quality compressions. High-quality CPR is imperative and can make all of the difference in the outcome of the patient.

Dr. Steven Wang: In the simplest terms. It's basically being that external pump that circulates blood to all the vital organs. It all started in the parking lot. And Mr. Lucero, he had a heart arrhythmia.

Connie Lucero: I knew I had to get him to the hospital quick, because after he started shaking all over his body, like a seizure, he [exhaled sharply], and to me, that's real serious. Because I've seen that before. Like, I said, I'm a caregiver. I've been with people when they've taken last breaths.

Courtney Divine: On this day, I was given the job of triage at the front door, and I had an inkling to turn around, and I see a vehicle driving down this road right behind me. And there is a woman in the front seat who looked terrified. When someone is having a real emergency, you can see it on their face. There was a man in her front passenger seat, seat-belted in, but just slumped forward.

Connie Lucero: She looked over at him and said, "What's going on?" She mouthed it to me. I said, "I don't know. Help!"

Courtney Divine: I reached and just opened the car door before she said anything. I asked his name. I don't remember at all what she told me. I went straight in for a sternum rub and there was no response. His head was slumped forward. There was drool coming out of his mouth. I went from the sternum rub and no response, immediately to feel for a pulse. I felt no pulse.

The patient is in the car's sitting straight up. I know that CPR is done better on a hard surface versus a soft surface. I looked at the patient and I knew I was not strong enough to take him out of the car on my own and get him safely onto the ground to perform CPR. I initiated CPR in the car, did one round of CPR.

And when I was able to run inside and get my team, I took that opportunity before returning to the patient and initiating CPR a second time. He was unresponsive, and I was concerned for his neck. The pace and the pressure that I was exerting on his chest was making his head and his neck rock back and forth. I threw my left forearm up onto his forehead to stabilize his head. And I just kept performing high-quality CPR to the best of my ability in that given situation. And before I knew it, I had an entire team of doctors, nurses, fellow technicians, there to assist me and to assist this patient in his care.

Leonard Lucero: The last thing I remember was just driving in the car. That's all. And I woke up in a hospital, and I think somebody was there at the time. And they told me I had a cardiac arrest. As they say, most people that have a cardiac arrest, don't make it.

I've had a lot of situations in my life. I have two amputations on my legs. I have amputations on my fingers, but each time I say it's another chapter in my life, but this time I'm saying the Lord gave me a second chance in life.

It was my daughter's birthday that day and my daughter's pregnant and I wanted to be able to see the other baby that's coming in January. There was a lot of things I was thankful for. But most of all, that the Lord put the people in the place that they had to be at the time to save me. The Lord was saying, "I'm not ready for you. You got things to do. You got to go tell your story."

Courtney Divine: Hi, can I hug you? I'm Courtney Divine.

Leonard Lucero: Oh man. You mean so much to me.

Courtney Divine: Good, it means a lot to me, too.

Leonard Lucero: To see you and thank you for being there. I get up every morning and thank the Lord for another day because I know it was Him, you, the team, my wife, everybody that did everything perfect. We want to thank you. I want to thank you, very much.

Courtney Divine: It means a lot.

Courtney Divine: This patient would not be here, if it were just me that day. This ER team is imperative to the care of every single patient. It's not ever just one person and that is a wonderful thing for everybody involved to have that strong unit, always there for each other and for patients.

Dr. Steven Wang: It's overall, it's trying to make this world a better place than I came into it with. And we talk about taking care of each individual person. As we do that, we give them the opportunity to spread that goodness. And that continues to become hopefully contagious, and that spreads. Then the world becomes a better place, and we want to take care of people. We want to give people opportunities and families opportunities to live life, enjoy life, enjoy each other and their experiences