From right to left, Dr. Marco Costa, president of UH's Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, Shaker Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, and patient Cary Hodous, along with Dan Ellenberger, director of UH EMS training, and the crew from "C-Shift" Rescue Squad 246 and Engine 216, recognized at the Feb. 13 City Council meeting. Tom Jewell/Special to cleveland.com
SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- As Cary Hodous went into full cardiac arrest one August night on the platform tennis courts at the Cleveland Skating Club, the odds were not in his favor.
"Seven hours later when I came to, the doctors told me that, with this happening out in the field, my chances were about non-existent," said the 62-year-old Beachwood man who lived to tell the tale.
Hodous and officials from University Hospitals were at Monday's City Council meeting to present a plaque to the city firefighters who arrived on the scene back on Aug. 2.
A checkered flag may also have been in order, since they made it from Station No. 2 on Warrensville Center Road in about three minutes or "light speed," noted Dr. Marco Costa, president of the Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute at UH.
"I have a chance to honor these guys who saved my life," Hodous said Feb. 13. "Everything fell into place and without them, I wouldn't be here tonight."
That would include firefighters Raffaele DiPio, Dave Hejl, Chris Nagy and Tim Wolf, along with Lt. Brian Guercio.
But there were a lot of factors that came into play that night, in what Dan Ellenberger, director of the EMS Training and Disaster Preparedness Institute at UH calls "the whole chain of survival."
One bystander playing on another court happened to be a nurse who immediately started CPR, as someone else got the club's automated external defibrillator (AED). At the same time, somebody was calling 911.
"A lot of things went very well," noted Shaker Heights Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney. "This was a case of the right people in the right place at the right time."
Hodous said he was "zapped" a total of seven times with the AED, twice on the platform tennis court, four times on the ambulance and once at the hospital.
"That one stuck," Hodous told council. "I know it's what they're trained for, but it's more than that when it's your own life."
With its Management Services Center located in Shaker's Van Aken District, "there isn't a week that goes by that UH isn't providing some type of advanced training to our firefighters," Sweeney said.
The chief noted that Ellenberger is there so much, he should have his own locker at the fire station.
"When all of the training comes together, that's when we save lives," Ellenberger said.
Costa, who also lives in Shaker, said he feels very safe as a resident of the community.
"And you can't always count on a nurse or a doctor being there -- although Shaker Heights is full of us," Costa added.
Sweeney and Ellenberger congratulated the crew for bringing all their training to bear on the patient.
"They stuck with it, and everything they learned over the years paid off," Sweeney said.
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