South Jersey paramedic reunites with woman whose life he helped save
Medical first responders don't have much time to get attached to the people they're assisting. Once their job is done with one patient, it's on to the next emergency.
So when paramedics work to keep a patient alive and pass them off to the hospital for more involved care, very rarely — if at all — do they get to meet the individual whose life they've saved.
Thanks to an event crafted by Virtua Health, South Jersey's largest health system, paramedic Justin Henley recently had the opportunity to avert that pattern and meet face to face with a Brooklawn resident he helped stabilize after she had gone into cardiac arrest at her home.
Henley and other first responders spent almost 40 minutes attempting to revive Ingrid Mayberry, whose grateful to be alive at age 62 following emergency heart surgery that fateful day in August 2018.
"A lot of people, if they walk out like Ingrid did, we'll never know," Henley told New Jersey 101.5. "It was very surreal to see her, her friends, her family. Just hearing her talk — it was an overwhelming feeling of joy."
Henley said everything happens so fast during an emergency situation, paramedics sometimes forget the true impact their work can make, for both a patient and their loved ones.
"It was an incredible moment for everyone," said Anthony Cascio, Virtua Health's director of quality, education and training for emergency medical services. "There were tears, hugs, and lots of smiles. Ingrid was so appreciative of being able to meet the people who saved her life. And the first responders were thrilled and grateful to meet her and see how well she’s doing."
A handful of similar reunions were held at Virtua's annual dinner for cardiac-arrest survivors and their first responders.
Cascio said Virtua paramedics helped save 40 people struck by an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in 2018.
Henley credits Ingrid's friends for their fast action during the incident. When she realized something was off, a friend called 911 before Ingrid had gone unconscious.
"A lot of times it comes down to how quickly a bystander calls 911, whether it's a loved one or a stranger," he said. "If people don't get CPR quickly, their brain cells begin to die."
Also involved in Ingrid's rescue were Bellmawr EMTs, Brooklawn police and firefighters, and the Camden County Emergency Services Center.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.