Cardiac arrest survivors reunite with Mich. EMS providers at award ceremony

The Life EMS providers were presented with awards yesterday while being reunited with the patients they saved


Michael Kransz
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kevin DeVries was nearing the end of a 5 1/2 mile run last fall when he collapsed.

His heart stopped beating. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, the father of two said, he was clinically dead.

Kevin DeVries (center) met Life EMS providers Christy Carter (left) and Colin Chrenka at an award ceremony on Wednesday. Carter and Chrenka revived DeVries after he went into cardiac arrest last summer. (Photo/Life EMS Ambulance Facebook)
Kevin DeVries (center) met Life EMS providers Christy Carter (left) and Colin Chrenka at an award ceremony on Wednesday. Carter and Chrenka revived DeVries after he went into cardiac arrest last summer. (Photo/Life EMS Ambulance Facebook)

His lifeless body was spotted, though, by a pair of nurses driving by. They performed CPR until an ambulance crew arrived and brought the Cascade Township resident back to life.

“They shocked me back to life, and I understand ... that that’s a single-digit chance, that 95, 97 percent of people that suffer cardiac arrest under the circumstances I had don’t survive,” DeVries said.

Even though the Life EMS Ambulance crew brought him back to life, DeVries was too out of it to remember meeting them. DeVries met the nurses -- one a neighbor from a street away and another a fellow church attendee -- after the incident but never the ambulance crew.

That changed Wednesday, Feb. 19.

“You see a name on paper and then you actually meet them and are able to thank them in person, that’s pretty surreal,” he said of meeting the pair revived him.

“I know these people don’t look at themselves as heroes. I know they’re just doing their job, but there’s not many jobs that you have out there that you’re actually saving lives.”

DeVries was one of four cardiac arrest survivors that met Wednesday for the first time with the Life EMS crews who helped make that survival possible.

The ambulance crew that helped save DeVries, Colin Chrenka and Christy Carter, were given an award and commemorative pin at the ceremony Wednesday at Life EMS on Cedar Street in Grand Rapids.

Chrenka said meeting DeVries and hearing the stories of others who medics helped reminds him of why he got into the career.

“It’s just like any other job: it’s easy to kind of get caught in that grind and the vast majority of our calls aren’t nearly as heroic or exciting as the kind of call that Kevin was in,” he said. “We can get stuck in the monotony, and this kind of event today just reminds us why we’re all here in the first place and how important our work actually can be.”

According to Mark Meijer, president of Life EMS, the ceremony Wednesday is the third annual one the company has hosted. Meijer said it’s a chance for medics and patients to connect after one of the most harrowing experiences.

“This is the most time sensitive, critical patient that we deal with,” Meijer said. “These folks literally were dead and then walked out of the hospital.”

According to the company, 36 people in 2019 in the Grand Rapids-area suffered a cardiac arrest and were later discharged from a hospital in good neurological condition with the help of Life EMS personnel.

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©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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