Woman thanks rescuers for saving her life


A Thornton woman on May 9 got the chance to thank North Washington Fire district personnel who saved her life.

She also witnessed a demonstration of the mechanical CPR device that was used during her medical emergency.

Joy Garza, 46, suffered sudden cardiac arrest Nov. 4 at about 10:30 p.m. Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt disruption of the heart’s function, and according to the American Heart Association, only 5 percent of those that suffer from it survive.

“Once a person is in cardiac arrest, every minute counts to get the heart beating normally again”, said North Washington Fire EMS Chief Dave Baldwin. “After 10 minutes, survival is very unlikely. Mrs. Garza is one of the lucky survivors.” 

Garza said she is alive today because of the proximity of her home to the fire station (less than two miles), the use of the ZOLL AutoPulse and the care she received while at North Suburban Medical


“It’s amazing,” Garza said. “Luckily I don’t live out in the country and was close so they could respond quickly.”

The grandmother of four said she has no memory of what happened that night, but her husband Francisco told her she was sleeping and then suddenly sat up.

“He thought I was going to cough but I just fell off the bed and my eyes were opened,” she said.

Francisco called 911 and paramedics with the North Washington Fire department had to shock her three times with a defibrillator to get a pulse. They then placed an AutoPulse Non-Invasive Cardiac Support Pump on her.

The pump is an automated, portable chest compression device.

“While manual CPR is the standard for providing temporary circulatory support and oxygen delivery during cardiac arrest, it presents physical challenges. Good-quality manual CPR is difficult to provide consistently, and significant decreases in quality can be seen after as little as one minute,” Baldwin said. “With the AutoPulse, we’re assured of consistent, good-quality chest compressions without interruptions. It can perform chest compressions more effectively than manual CPR. Its ease of use lets us provide chest compression within seconds. Plus it allows us to focus on other treatments, such as administering drugs and ventilation.”

The district bought two AutoPulse devices in 2010 and paid $7,500 for them. They typically run $15,000 per unit, but the district bought them refurbished and used a state grant to help with the costs.


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