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‘I owe them my life': Texas cardiac arrest survivor meets EMS crew that saved him

David Cruise and his family got the opportunity the thank the Parker County Hospital District EMS crew


Parker County Hospital District EMS

By Sally Sexton
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD, Texas — David Cruise doesn’t remember much about the events on the morning of June 9.

“I think what happened was a miracle, very humbling,” he told some 50 Parker County EMS employees and faculty Wednesday, several of whom made his appearance possible. “For me to be here, I think God has a purpose. And the EMS folks that were there that day, I owe them my life.”

Cruise recalled the morning was a warm and humid one as he mowed the grass of his front yard.

“I got about halfway through and remember thinking, I need a water break,” he said. “I didn’t feel any chest pain, no indication of anything going wrong with the heart or anything at all.

“I went inside, sat down in the recliner and drank some water. That is the last thing I can remember.”

Cruise’s next memory was about five days later, when his family told him he had suffered a massive heart attack, what doctors refer to as the “widowmaker” due to a 12% survival rate.

“From this point forward, everything I’m telling you is second hand,” Cruise said Wednesday.

While he doesn’t have memory of it, Cruise made a phone call to his daughter, a registered nurse who happens to live next door, telling her he thought he might be experiencing heat exhaustion and needed to go to the hospital.

Cruise’s youngest son, who wasn’t scheduled to be home, arrived after a movie, and drove the three to the hospital. At the intersection of Brazos Street and U.S. Highway 180, however, Cruise seized up.

“And according to my daughter, she couldn’t feel a pulse,” he said. “We happened to be near a store and my daughter, she garnered up super human strength and got me out on solid ground because she knew enough that I needed to be on solid ground to do the resuscitation.”

A call was placed to 9-1-1, allowing the fire department to show up first, followed by an EMS crew.

A decision was made to transport Cruise to a hospital in Fort Worth, where he underwent two stints and an angioplasty after severe blockage was found in his arteries.

When he awoke to his wife letting him know what happened, Cruise was in disbelief.

“I thought I was reasonably healthy, active. It’s almost like the whole thing wasn’t real when I was hearing about it,” he said, before pausing to collect his emotions.

Cruise’s testimony Wednesday was a powerful reminder of how training and education by EMS personnel can literally be the difference between life and death.

“All these processes, cardiac and resuscitation academies... David is the end result of what happens,” Parker County Hospital District EMS Director Jim Backus said. “He experienced a major cardiac event with cardiac arrest. He is with us today, he’s able to tell us his story and we’re so very glad he’s here with us.”

Across the room of the EMS Admin and Training Building from where Cruise and his family sat, Backus pointed to a Cardiac Arrest Survivors plaque hanging on the wall, before handing him a Sharpie.

“There are two people that have already signed. This building holds training for medics, our high school EMS classes, various first responders ... they will always see your name on that board,” Backus said. “You mean a lot to us and your story means a lot to us.

“This is why we do what we do.”

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