Palm Coast - When cardiac arrest occurs, every second counts. That was true for Palm Coast resident Serge Judro, who has lived to share his story.

On Tuesday, Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle and the Palm Coast City Council recognized the Palm Coast Fire crew and four local residents for their roles in saving Judro's life.

Judro wasn't feeling well when he went to work Feb. 15, but he didn't realize he was experiencing signs of a heart attack, known medically as Acute Myocardial Infarction. His coworkers didn't notice anything wrong until Judro collapsed. They called 911 and immediately began CPR.

Upon arrival of Palm Coast Fire Engine 21, the crew of Lt. Daniel Driscoll, Driver Engineer Adam Bachman and Firefighter-Paramedic Kalin Graham found Judro in cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat - also known as arrhythmia - that disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and the organs. It is a leading cause of death, with more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occurring outside the hospital each year in the United States. Unfortunately, nearly 90 percent of those people die.

When a person has a cardiac arrest, their survival depends on immediately getting CPR and medical attention. The American Heart Association says CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival if performed in the first few minutes.

So it was fortunate that Judro received CPR performed by his coworkers. Upon arrival, Firefighter-Paramedic Graham led the resuscitation efforts, assisted by the Flagler County Fire Rescue 21 crew that responded in an ambulance. They performed Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) interventions including manual defibrillation, intravenous drug therapy, airway intubation and maintaining high quality CPR. Their efforts resulted in Judro regaining a pulse and spontaneous breathing. The physicians and staff at Florida Hospital Flagler continued post-resuscitation care, and Judro has since been released from the hospital.

On Tuesday, Judro attended the Palm Coast City Council meeting to meet and thank his coworkers and the Engine 21 crew who responded when he collapsed. Because of the extraordinary chain of events on Feb. 15, Judro is here today as one of the 10 percent of people who survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Chief Beadle presented lifesaving awards to Sandvik employees Nate Kife, Gene Kleinschmit, Tricia Pacionis and Lori Scorpio, saying not all first responders are firefighters. Driscoll, Bachman and Graham of Palm Coast Engine 21 received a Unit Citation.

Preparation for situations like this is the result of ongoing training and cooperative efforts of Palm Coast firefighters and Florida Hospital Flagler. Dr. Kristin McCabe, who was recently recognized as the hospital's Physician of the Quarter, is the medical director for Flagler County/Palm Coast Fire services. Dr. McCabe and Dr. Blue Coltharp lead monthly training sessions with firefighters that evaluate pre-hospital medical care and the transition to post-hospital recovery. Last October, Florida Hospital Flagler and local first responders were recognized for treating heart attack patients faster than the national average.

The Palm Coast Fire Department reminds everyone of the importance of early CPR and how to recognize a heart attack. Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. However, when cardiac arrest occurs, a heart attack is a common cause.

Do not wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body - and call 911 if you feel:

  1. Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  2. Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

The Palm Coast Fire Department regularly offers First Aid and CPR/AED classes that teach basic first aid skills that include giving CPR to an infant, young child, or an adult and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). For more information or to sign up, visit www.palmcoastgov.com/cpr or call Palm Coast Fire at 386-986-2300.