CPR helped in survival of local man | SummitDaily.com

CPR helped in survival of local man

Mackenzie Lemma is credited with saving a man's life after administering CPR in a restaurant last week.

SILVERTHORNE – A 43-year-old Silverthorne man is alive, partly because of the efforts of a woman who saw him collapse in a Silverthorne restaurant last week and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Mackenzie Lemma, an advertising representative with the Summit Daily News, was discussing ads with a customer when she noticed he was sweating and scratching his arm near his chest – classic symptoms of heart problems.

Lemma was first certified in CPR when she was a volunteer with the American Red Cross as a teenager. In college she majored in exercise physiology with an emphasis in cardiac rehabilitation. She worked for Mon General Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., before moving to Summit County.

She recognized the symptoms.

“I knew something was wrong,” Lemma said. “But I never thought I’d have to use it (CPR training). I thought if I did, it would be in the hospital where I worked.”

The two got up to leave the restaurant, and the man, who wished to remain anonymous, fell to the ground with what was later determined to be a massive heart attack and a small stroke.

Lemma immediately checked to see if he was breathing and if he had a pulse. She then asked someone to call 911 as she began CPR.

“It seemed like forever,” she said of the procedure. “But it was probably about five minutes.”

Emergency services personnel arrived on the scene and hooked the man up to a defibrillator – a unit that shocks the heart into a functional rhythm. They transported him to Summit Medical Center where doctors stabilized him, then took him to Denver where his cardiologist works.

The man also has sickle cell anemia, which might have played a part in his heart attack. He will undergo a quadruple bypass today, said Lemma, who is in contact with the family.

CPR is the first line of defense for someone experiencing a heart attack. The person administering it tries to manually manipulate the heart to keep blood flowing to vital organs, notably, the brain. In between compressions to the chest, the administrator also gives the patient breaths of air to oxygenate the blood.

CPR is only administered on people who are not breathing and who don’t have a pulse. Survival is critically tied to the speed at which advanced life support systems arrive, as well.

“It’s not so much a CPR thing as it is a time thing,” said Ed Parry, assistant director of the Summit County Ambulance Service. “Survival rates are much higher with CPR, but a primary factor in survival is time to shock. People are increasingly recognizing there’s a person who needs CPR, (they) start the chain of events going that puts them into the EMS (emergency medical services) system faster. They’re not just calling in to say, “Oh, I think someone passed out.'”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or


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