For anyone who has ever suffered a heart attack, nothing is scarier than those first moments in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  In New Castle County heart attack survivors got to say thank you to those who saved their lives.

February is traditionally the time given to celebrate matters of the heart, not only because of Valentine’s Day but also because the month of February has been declared as National Heart Month. This special designation is a part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. With that in mind, the New Castle County Paramedics hosted a unique event that reunited survivors of cardiac arrest with the first responders who were instrumental to their recovery.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor’s Reunion held its inaugural meeting today at the Department of Public Safety Headquarters in New Castle. It brought together survivors and local public servants from emergency communications, law enforcement, fire department, and emergency medical services throughout Wilmington and New Castle county. Although this event was the first of its kind, Director of Public Safety Joseph Bryant Jr. said that it won’t be the last.

The reunion also honored 139 first responders. They recounted stories of lives they saved and were honored with citations for their work. New Castle County Executive Thomas Gordon detailed a two-year list of cases and  all of the things necessary for a successful resuscitation. That included victims suffering from cardiac arrest, delivering CPR, applying electric shock, and providing proper medication in order to revive and stabilize victims.

Gordon said many of the responders needed great collaboration for a successful rescue.  While Gordon spoke of the protocols as a “chain of survival” that could significantly influence a positive outcome for victims in cardiac distress, he also emphasized the importance in the joint effort of police, fire fighters, and paramedics as they all stood together and were recognized for their achievements. 

The survivors ranged in age from teens to seniors.  One case sited was of a 17 year high school student who needed to be shocked by paramedics after suffering a heart attack on the school's basketball court.  New Castle County officials said it was an example of the type of work paramedics do.