Dave Klaber Find a Location Find a Doctor Heart & Vascular Arrhythmia Center Diagnostic Testing Treatments/Procedures Cardiology Minimally Invasive Procedures Heart Attack Care Clinical Research Diagnostic Services Heart and Lung Surgery Heart Disease Treatment Lung and Airway Disease Treatment Other Services Cardiac Rehab Heart Failure Center Patient Success Stories Prevention and Wellness CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit Freshstart Hands-only CPR Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tips My Heart Rocks Take Time For Your Heart Women Take Heart Valve Center Treatments Your Hospital Stay Care After Heart Surgery Intensive Care for Heart Conditions Nurses with Heart Care Expertise Partners in Heart Care Transitional Care Units Quick Action Saves Firefighter's Life It was a hot, Saturday afternoon in August as volunteer firefighter Dave Klaber, 37, drove swiftly to a Pendleton County farm where hundreds of hay bales had caught fire. As he began filling a water truck to take into the fields, he felt a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. At first he chalked it up to the physical labor he’d been doing that morning, moving furniture and boxes. “Then, I started getting nauseated, dizzy, and I was sweating badly. I knew something wasn’t right,” Dave recalls. A friend and fellow firefighter called an ambulance. The rapid sequence of events that followed ultimately saved his life. No Time to Lose Complete blockage of Dave’s left anterior descending artery, commonly called the “widow maker,” was robbing his heart of blood and oxygen. Within 10 minutes, an ambulance arrived at the farm site. Within 60 seconds, paramedics were getting a 12-lead EKG reading. They knew Dave’s situation was serious. Dave’s girlfriend, Kelly Staten, arrived in time to get in the front seat of the ambulance, and they headed with Dave to St. Elizabeth in Edgewood. “I went to school with the ambulance driver, and a paramedic friend was in back with me. We grew up with these people, so we know all of them,” Dave says. The paramedic tending to Dave’s care transmitted his EKG reading to the ED manager on duty at St. Elizabeth. The manager showed it to the emergency doctor, who then alerted the catheterization lab team. The team had just been getting ready to shut down for the weekend but swiftly prepared for an emergency catheterization. Meanwhile, Dave stayed conscious throughout the 37-minute ambulance ride. As the ambulance parked outside St. Elizabeth Emergency, his heart stopped beating. Kelly recalls, “I heard our friend screaming Dave’s name, and I jumped out and ran around to the back. I watched him code, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. I was a screaming, crying mess.” Emergency Heart Care at Its Best The ED team of nurses and doctors rushed Dave into the ED, shocked his heart twice and then watched in amazement as Dave sat up, looked at Kelly and said he was fine. Knowing that time was critical, the team wheeled his bed into the catheterization lab at a run. Cardiologist Robert Strickmeyer, MD, opened the blockage and restored blood flow to Dave’s heart just 24 minutes after he entered the ED doors. What they didn’t expect was having to shock Dave’s heart more than a dozen times to get it beating in a normal rhythm again. Perfect Timing Thinking back about how things might have turned out, the father of four children comments, “I’ve worked heart attacks as an EMT. I’m really, really lucky and I know that. The timing on everything was perfect.” It took only 74 minutes from the first medical contact to the time that a balloon opened the blockage in Dave’s coronary artery. As medical personnel know, every minute saved equals heart muscle saved. “All of the doctors and nurses from the ED to the Cath Lab to the ICU were fantastic,” Kelly says. “When you’re in situation like that, you rely on them to do the work and take care of the people you love.” “My heart is almost back to normal,” Dave reports. “At five weeks, I went back to work in my job as a firefighter for Toyota in Georgetown.” At 12 weeks, his echocardiogram provided evidence that his heart’s pumping rate was sufficient to allow him to continue being a firefighter. Dave is doing his part to protect his heart: He quit smoking, walks every day, has lost 10 lbs., eats better and has given up drinking eight to 10 soft drinks a day. He’s able to do everything he did before. “St. Elizabeth is top notch for heart care,” Dave notes. He and Kelly made a trip back to the hospital a few months after his heart attack to express their gratitude to the many people who contributed to saving his life on that hot August day. Learn More Bystander CPR can save a life. Watch this video to learn hands-only CPR. Or if you know CPR, get an alert on your cell phone with the PulsePoint app if someone nearby needs CPR. Take action and save a life!