Silverthorne man donates defibrillator to restaurant where his heart stopped
September 11, 2010
FRISCO – Jim Phillips’s dinner at Carlos Miguel’s was interrupted eight weeks ago when his heart suddenly stopped beating.
The 65-year-old Silverthorne resident returned to the restaurant Thursday with one of the automated defibrillators that helped save his life. He also shared a table with the first responders.
“I guess I owe everybody here something,” Phillips said.
The survival rate is less than 8 percent for people suffering cardiac arrest outside a hospital, according to the American Heart Association.
Summit County Ambulance Service director Mark Burdick said Phillips was the first person saved using the automated defibrillator after 18 attempts in previous years.
Phillips donated the machine – which can cost between $1,600 and $2,300 – through his employer, Silver Springs Citrus of Florida.
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Jim and his wife, Kay, were taking a couple friends out for dinner July 26 when the horrifying incident occurred.
The group was snacking on guacamole at a table near the bar at about 5:30 p.m. when one of their friends noticed Jim’s “color was awful,” Kay Phillips said. His eyes were closed and mouth was open.
She gripped his arm to keep him from falling off the chair.
“He was just total dead weight,” she said.
Jim Phillips was experiencing cardiac arrest.
Local Dr. Heidi Worth was in the restaurant and immediately started CPR with the help of other medical professionals who happened to be there.
Frisco police officers arrived with the automatic external defibrillator, which is deployed in squad cars across the county through a federal program.
Summit County Ambulance Service medics and firefighters with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue arrived moments later. The ambulance people worked with Jim on the scene for 31 minutes before taking him to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
He was later flown to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, where two stents were inserted into the artery that had been blocked.
Jim Phillips doesn’t recall much of the experience beyond taking his seat at the restaurant.
“The chairs were high. I just let (my shoes) drop,” he said. “And that was it.”
He woke up a few days later at the Denver hospital. Burdick said the drugs administered to cardiac arrest victims are known to cause amnesia.
The automated defibrillator that Frisco police used was supplied through Keep the Beat Summit, a program that began six years ago to provide the devices across the county and train more than 1,000 people to use them and perform CPR.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided more than 180 automated defibrillators through a grant to the ambulance service and sheriff’s office.
About half of the devices were placed in police cars while others were put at such locations as the courthouse, the Summit County Community and Senior Center and local recreation centers.
Thursday’s reunion included people from the fire district and ambulance service, and the medical professionals who were on the scene during the incident.
Jim Phillips said he wanted to get the defibrillator for the restaurant after hearing about a cardiac arrest victim elsewhere who wasn’t so fortunate.
“If it helps somebody, then great,” he said.
SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.