COVINGTON, Ky. — A trio of emergency medical technicians received a national award Tuesday for saving a stroke victim’s life in under 30 minutes during a December 2018 run.
The American Heart Association’s Target Stroke Honor Roll recognizes first responders who connect patients with critical care quickly, shifting the odds of survival and recovery in their favor. As EMTs, Daniel Zembrodt, Brian Boyers and Jonathan Krull all knew how precious those moments were when they received the call.
They’d received a reminder earlier that day.
“The day started off rough,” Zembrodt admitted.
It was the day after Christmas, and it started with a pair of grim calls with grimmer ends: A five-month-old infant and an elderly woman, both dead before they arrived. The first was so disturbing the Covington fire chief and union president both called to ensure the men were OK, Boyers said.
Hours later, another call sent them back to the street where they’d discovered the dead child. This patient, a man so determined to watch college football that he initially blanched at going to the hospital, was alive.
They were determined to keep him that way.
“The new standard of care is all about time: How fast we can notify (the hospital) so they can get the stroke teams and get them moving,” Boyers said. “That way, they can be prepared, ready for us when we get there and quickly administer the medication to help the stroke patients.”
Their door-to-needle time — the span from the moment they arrived at the man’s home to the moment he entered the hospital — was under a half-hour.
Quick responses like that are critical, according to the American Stroke Association, because of the way strokes form. Most are blood clots in the brain, and a victim who spends longer with a clot will experience more brain damage. A few extra seconds can lengthen their recovery by weeks or months — or make the difference between life and death.
Being able to save that man softened the blow of the day’s first two calls, Zembrodt said Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of good parts of the jobs,” he said. “Then some days, some of those aren’t the best. You try to do what you can with what you can and deal with it.
“To see a positive outcome helps.”