Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can save a life. When Bob Short went into cardiac arrest, he had the good fortune to be right across the street from firefighter Cliff Lesmeister, who administered CPR and called 911. Bob’s luck continued when he was rushed to Stony Brook University Heart Institute, where the latest cardiac interventions saved his heart and gave him a second chance at living.
Quick Lifesaving Action
At the Heart Institute’s May 28 Heart Saver ceremony, Cliff received an award for his quick lifesaving action, as did members of the Selden EMS/Fire Department who responded to the emergency. Bob, 59, his wife Dawn, 52, and their family attended the ceremony to thank Cliff, the EMS and the hospital staff who got Bob back on his feet.
It happened February 25. Bob was driving when he suddenly veered off the road. He knocked down a street sign and a mailbox, finally coming to a stop on someone’s lawn. Directly across the street was Cliff, a 28-year veteran of the Fire Department of the City of New York, sitting in his car and talking on his cell phone. “It was surreal how this all went down,” Cliff recalls. “In truth, I had no business being there. Had I not gotten that phone call, I would have never pulled over and wouldn’t have been there.” As for Bob, he doesn’t remember anything at all about the incident. But Cliff will never forget what happened next.
He ran over to the car, where all the doors were locked. “I screamed at him, ‘Yo, buddy! Look at me. Unlock your door,’” Cliff said. Bob tried to do it but lost consciousness. Cliff and a bystander broke the car windows and pulled Bob out. He had no pulse. As Cliff was administering CPR, the Selden EMS/Fire Department responded and began treating Bob. An ambulance arrived, and whisked Bob off to the Stony Brook University Hospital Emergency Room.
Advanced Cardiac Life Support
When Dawn Short got to the hospital, she found out that Bob had gone in and out of cardiac arrest several times at the scene and again in the Emergency Room. Fortunately, he had Dr. Daryl Williams, Emergency Medicine attending physician, on his side. Dr. Williams performed CPR for 35 minutes to restore his heart rhythm. “Dr. Williams persisted and never gave up on him,” said Dawn. The Emergency Medicine team performed advanced cardiac life support and confirmed the need for interventional cardiology.
Bob was taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, where interventional cardiologist William E. Lawson, MD, performed a protected percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedure. Dr. Lawson gave Bob’s heart an extra assist while he opened up Bob’s two narrowed arteries with stents (expandable stainless steel metal coils). The extra help came in the form of an Impella® Assist Device, a heart pump that temporarily takes over the pumping action of the heart and maintains heart function, blood pressure and blood flow. Stony Brook’s protected PCI approach makes heart repair safer and prevents the patient’s body from experiencing too much strain.
Steady Progress and A Second Chance
After a 15-day hospital stay, Bob was discharged to the home he shares with Dawn in Coram. He continues to work with physical and occupational therapists. “Despite the extended period of time that Bob did not have a heart rhythm, he now is doing very well,” said Dr. Lawson. “His steady progress definitely could be attributed to Mr. Lesmeister’s quick response at the scene, as well as the treatment Bob received here at Stony Brook in the Emergency Room and the Heart Institute.”
Cliff said he couldn’t wait to meet the Short family. “I’m just ecstatic that he is alive and well,” he said.
Dawn said she and her family credits fate and the fast-acting good Samaritans and medical staff that gave Bob a second chance at living. “We met a lot of really wonderful people — nurses and doctors, nursing assistants, and everyone at the hospital,” she said. “I am beyond grateful every single day, that the kindness and dedication of strangers pulled Bob through this.”
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