The stars were aligned over Coon Rapids one morning in February.
So much so that Mary Rosemark, 49, Coon Rapids, survived a pulmonary embolism thank to the swift action of her husband, Dan Rosemark, and emergency responders from several agencies.
Those emergency responders were recognized by Dan and Mary Rosemark, now fully recovered, in a presentation at the April 3 Coon Rapids City Council meeting.
The emergency responders from Allina, both paramedics and dispatchers, Coon Rapids police and fire officers and Anoka County Central Communications personnel received a Life Saver Award from Heart Safe Communities, presented by the Rosemarks.
Heart Safe Communities, a community service of Allina Hospitals & Clinic, is an effort to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest by placing automated external defibrillators (AED) wherever people live, work and play as well as train people how to use AEDs and perform CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation).
The normal morning routine for Dan and Mary Rosemark before they went to work began at 7 a.m. Feb. 17 when Mary went downstairs to make coffee after taking a shower, then Dan took a shower.
But when Dan finished his shower, Mary was not back upstairs to get ready for work as she normally was. “That was strange,” he said.
Dan went downstairs and found Mary lying on the sofa in the family room, stating she did not feel well and was going to vomit, he said.
He got her a pail into which Mary vomited, then went to get her a glass of water, but when he returned, he noticed Mary’s eyes had stopped blinking, there was saliva coming from her mouth and when he snapped his fingers and shook her, there was no response, according to Dan.
He immediately called 911, explained what had happened and was told to get Mary off the sofa and on to the floor, Dan said.
Dan had taken CPR training some 30 years before, but had never had to use it on a loved one, he said.
But he immediately started chest compressions with coaching from Allina dispatchers while emergency responders – Coon Rapids police and fire and Allina paramedics – were en route.
According to Dan, he was told not to do mouth-to-month, only chest compressions.
At one point, he got Mary back, so he stopped, but then he lost her again, Dan said.
“It was very grueling and it seemed forever before the responders arrived,” he said.
“I was getting very tired and kept going on adrenalin.”
The Rosemarks’ youngest daughter, Courtney, 18, was present and was his CPR backup as she had recently completed CPR training, Dan said.
According to Coon Rapids Police Chief John Piper, an audio from Anoka County Central Communications showed that five minutes elapsed between Rosemark’s 911 call and the first arriving responder, Coon Rapids Police Officer Pat Morris.
Morris took over chest compressions, then the arriving Coon Rapids firefighters Chuck Fleury and Greg Leciejewski joined in the treatment, Piper said.
That enabled Coon Rapids Police Officer Jason Ruis to speak with Dan and “get vital patient information from him to those providing care,” he said.
The AED brought by the firefighters was connected to Mary, then arriving Allina paramedics Patricia Montoya-Nelson and Christina Evenson joined firefighters in hooking up the Lucas chest compression device and started an IV, Piper said.
The fire department, through grant dollars, has acquired two Lucas machines, which give consistent chest compressions that humans are unable to deliver, he said.
According to Piper, a successful AED shock was given.
“It was very traumatic, but they did not give up on her and then they got a slight heartbeat,” Dan said.
Mary was taken to Mercy Hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest three more times in the emergency department.
“I was told Mary had 1 percent chance of survival,” Dan said.
She had suffered a pulmonary embolism, caused by blood clot which had broken off and gone to the heart, he said.
“It was incredibly scary,” said Dan, who had been joined at the hospital by his other daughter, Amanda Myrich, who, he said, urged that her mother be transferred to Abbott-Northwestern Hospital,
After Mary was placed on ECMO, a heart by-pass machine, and cooled at Mercy, she was transferred to Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Piper said.
“Three days later on Feb. 20 Mary was removed from ECMO as her dramatic recovery continued,” he said.
“On Feb. 29, 12 days after the event, Mary was described as ‘fully alert, oriented and neurologically intact’.”
According to Piper, he was forwarded an e-mail from David Hildebrandt, cardiovascular emergencies program manager, Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott-Northwestern, that described Mary’s outcome as a “huge save for all parties involved.”
“Timing in a case like this is everything,” Piper said.
“Permanent brain damage starts to occur four to six minutes after the heart stops.
“Her outcome is a direct result of the ‘chain of survival’ that allowed all involved to communicate and work effectively as a team.”
“We are all very excited to know that Mary is doing so well and has the opportunity to live a normal life.”
Mary had phenomenal care and has suffered no lasting damage, according to Dan.
“I believe there was divine intervention,” Dan said. “I was able to keep it all together.”
“God had the right people at the right time in the right place.”
Mary is walking up to a half-a-mile a day, riding a bike and anticipates going back to work May 1 at Perrigo Pharmaceutical in New Hope, where she works in the regulatory department, Dan said.
She will be on blood thinner for the rest of her life, but a filter that was placed in her right leg to prevent blood clots from affecting her heart will be removed in June, he said.
“Mary’s recovery is a miracle,” Dan said. “It’s quite remarkable.”
“We are so very fortunate to live in a community like this.”
According to Mary Rosemark, she does not remember anything from that morning until she woke up in the hospital ICU five to six days later.
As she looks back, Mary recalls having a cramp in her right leg when she was at work the day before and feeling a little tired when she was climbing steps.
But before that she was in perfect health, not even taking aspirins, she said.
“I feel much better and have no ill effects,” Mary said this week.
“I do get fatigued and have to pace myself, but physical therapy has helped to build up my stamina.”
There is some history of heart trouble in her family, she said.
Her father died from heart disease and her brother is on blood thinner to deal with his heart issues but they are not as severe as hers, according to Mary.
Mary’s words as she and her husband presented the Life Saver Award certificates at the council meeting were quite simple. “I am so grateful,” she said.
“It’s hard to know what to say,” Mary said this week. “They saved my life.”
Mary was pleased to meet those that were part of the team that saved her life as well as their families that attended the presentation at the council meeting, she said.
“I had no idea so many people were involved,” Mary said.
According to Dr. Charles Lick, Allina Transportation and EMS medical director, Mary’s survival is attributable to teamwork, CPR training and the availability of AEDs.
“Teamwork is so important,” Lick said. “It saves lives.”
Life Saver Award presentations were made to Allina paramedics Montoya-Nelson and Evenson, Allina dispatchers Kelly Ryan and Drew Boxrud, Coon Rapids Police officers Morris and Ruis, Coon Rapids firefighters Fleury, Leciejewski and Jake Schultze and Anoka County Central Communications staff members Kari Morrissey, Jackie Thomton and Kyle Blum.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]