Medics honored, thanked by heart attack victim they revived

Two medics saved a man who suffered a heart attack, preceded by a stroke less than two months before; "the odds of me living were slim to none"

By Lori Caldwell

GARY, Ind. — Jerome Varlow joined the Gary Fire Departments medics Wednesday for a luncheon recognizing the work they do every day.

But it was one particular day, two months ago, and two particular medics, that brought, Varlow, 50, of Hammond to the Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center to honor the city's emergency medical workers.

"I had a heart attack. A month-and-a-half before that I had a stroke. The odds of me living were slim to none," he told the medics.

It was Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Pickering and Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician Jonathan Kalina who took the call at the South Shore station in Miller that morning.

"Ultimately, God kept me alive. But God uses people," Varlow said as he thanked the pair for their work.

Varlow was waiting for a westbound train to take him to his church in Hammond to assemble children's Easter baskets when the attack struck. He fell onto the tracks, but others carried him back onto the platform where two nurses began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, Kalina said.

"We never got their names. When the train arrived, they left before we could talk to them," Kalina said.

Varlow said his heart stopped more than once on the trip to the Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus. "They kept me alive," he said.

Pickering said that in his 20 years, Varlow is the first patient who has recovered fully with no lingering effects. New CPR equipment recently obtained by the fire department contributed to the medics' success, he added.

Chief Paul Bradley took a moment to thank all the medics on the department in advance of EMS week, which begins Sunday. "I started in EMS in 1989," he said. "I understand real well that it ain't easy. It's a hard job."

The standing-room-only crowd that filled the board room applauded in response.

As for the life-saving medics Pickering and Kalina, Bradley praised them for their work ethic, but teased them both a bit about their sometimes cantankerous manner.

"Anything I have asked of these two guys over the years, they have done willingly. They might do it their own way, but they get it done."


©2015 the Post-Tribune (Merrillville, Ind.)

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