Many residents have a special place in their hearts for Medic One, as do their families and friends. Here are but a few of the “life-saving stories” that are directly attributable to exceptional quality of emergency care services made possible by the Medic One Foundation. If you have a life-saving story to share, please click here.


Simon McGrathSimonMcGrath_002_RGB

On June 25, 2015, at about 4:30 PM, I suffered a severe allergy attack while visiting Seattle on business. The allergic reaction led to anaphylactic shock, and over the course of the next ten to fifteen minutes, as I made my way from the office back to the hotel, my body went into shock, dramatically lowering my blood pressure. I found it difficult to speak, running the final blocks in panic.

The hotel lobby staff called 911, but the situation began to worsen as my airways closed. A fire engine arrived shortly after. The firefighters laid me down in the entryway of the hotel and gave me adrenaline and oxygen. Paramedics arrived two minutes later since the situation had gone beyond their expertise and the adrenaline was not having the desired effect. The wonderful paramedics, Shellie Miller and Cheryl Taylor, sedated me as they tried to intubate me. It was not successful, so they performed an emergency cricothyrotomy, slicing my throat vertically with a scalpel to create an airway and inserted a breathing tube. Somewhere around this time my heart stopped. The firefighters—Chris and Will—performed CPR and kept the blood pumping until my pulse returned four minutes later.

I was then transferred to Harborview Medical Center, seven blocks from the hotel. On duty that evening was Dr. David Carlbom, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary Critical Care Division and Director of Harborview Paramedic Training Program. He was waiting for me with Dr. Kris Moe, Professor of Otolaryngology, and a team of medics and nurses. They received me into the ER and over the course of the next two and a half hours somehow managed to open my airways and intubate me properly with a breathing line. I had the best of the best caring for me, both in the field and then in the ER. They saved my life.

Of course I knew none of this at the time. As I was being taken into the ER, my friend, Jamie, called my wife, Rose, at home in London and simply told her that she needed to be on the 9:00 AM flight out of London to Seattle, and very little else. He had already booked it for her. Once Rose arrived in Seattle, Jamie picked her up at the airport and drove her straight to the hospital, arriving around noon. I cannot describe the emotions; no amount of words borrowed, pilfered, or assembled can describe those first minutes. Over the course of the next few hours the firefighters that performed CPR, and the paramedics who performed the cricothyrotomy came by to see me. Again, the emotional wave was immense. My gratitude is absolute.

I was in the right city for this to happen. The guys at the Four Seasons, Chris and Will from the initial EMT response, paramedics Shellie and Cheryl, Drs. Carlbom and Moe, were the right people in the right place and time for me that day. So many have said that my stars were aligned. I believe that they were and I am so grateful to the wonderful city of Seattle.

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Ford Uffelman

Ford Uffelman

“It’s only because of the paramedics that our son is still with us.”

It was a typical Sunday for Tara and David Uffelman and their kids: 8-year-old son Tate, 5-year-old daughter Emerson, and almost-2-year-old son Ford. They attended church, where Ford jabbered loudly and happily throughout the service.

Back at home a few hours later, Tara heard a loud crash in the kitchen. David had yanked Ford from his high chair. He held the baby at an incline, with Ford’s head near the floor, and was pounding him on the back. “I had given Ford a hot dog cut into small pieces, and he was eating them very fast,” David says. “Then I saw him make an odd movement with his mouth and neck. I knew he was choking.” Both parents tried the Heimlich maneuver and more back-pounding, but nothing worked. Tara says, “He didn’t have enough air to cry—he could only make little struggling noises.”

They started CPR and called 911. “We were panicked and screaming, yelling our address over and over,” David says. By this time, Ford was completely still and limp; his lips and face were turning blue. Firefighters and Medic One paramedics arrived in minutes. David says, “I remember thinking: Ford’s odds of survival just went way up. I was so relieved that this fight to save him was now in the paramedics’ hands.”

Paramedics performed CPR for more than 10 minutes while trying several techniques to clear Ford’s airway. Finally, they were able to use forceps to remove two pieces of hot dog. Ford’s color improved and his eyelids fluttered. Once his vital signs were stable, the paramedics transported him to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Riding along in the Medic One unit, Tara suddenly heard a beautiful sound: Ford was screaming and crying. “He hadn’t made a sound in 20 minutes. When I heard that loud cry, I felt such hope,” she says. “Our paramedics were still with us in the ER when the doctors confirmed that Ford was okay, and I gave each of them the biggest hugs ever.”

Ford made a quick recovery, but Tara and David still feel shaken when they think about that day. They worry about what Emerson and Tate witnessed. Tara says, “Emerson seems to have come through it the best. She tells people, ‘Ford choked on a hot dog and died but now he’s back alive.’ But Tate is a sensitive kid with a big heart. If Ford even coughs, Tate is right by his side, making sure we’re checking on his baby brother.”

But great things have come out of this near-tragedy. Friends organized a ‘date night’ for 25 young couples with kids, during which everyone learned CPR for infants and children. And at Ford’s second birthday party two weeks after the 911 call, in lieu of bringing gifts, guests donated to the Medic One Foundation to honor Ford and those who saved him. David adds, “We saw flawless teamwork that day, and perfect medical skills. The paramedics are lifesavers, and it’s because of them that we still have Ford.”

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Heather Kelley

On February 5, 2014, Heather Kelley was on her way to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl Celebration when her heart stopped on the sidewalk just outside of CenturyLink Field. Heather had just returned from the Super Bowl with her husband and told her girls they could skip school to go see the parade. While paramedics were ultimately able to restore her heartbeat, it was Heather’s daughters, Ryan and Taylor, who took the first steps to start what emergency responders call the cardiac arrest chain of survival—critical steps that can mean the difference between life and death. “In that moment we knew through school and everything if it’s a heart thing, CPR can’t harm her, it can only help her. So I started CPR and my sister started calling 911,” said Ryan. Thankfully, a group of paramedics from the Seattle Fire Department were only 100 yards away when somebody ran to tell them that a woman had collapsed.

Nearly six months after the incident, Heather reunited with her paramedic rescuers, Christina Dixon and David Van Velthuyzen, during Seahawks training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “The most favorite part of my life right now is to be a mom, and they let me continue to do that,” said Heather.

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Alan Thomas

By summer, Brenda and Alan were spending every day together. On one sunny July afternoon, they were picnicking at Brenda’s favorite beach when Alan’s heart stopped.

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Becky Cole

Becky was nearly nine months pregnant with her fourth child when her heart stopped.

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Lily James

What happened to then 7-year old Lily James on Lake Washington in Summer 2009 is almost unimaginable. In a split second, everything went completely and nightmarishly wrong. But then, the moment after tragedy struck, everything went completely and miraculously right.

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Tony Locati

We build our lives around relationships… Tony and Jennie Locati were great friends for 13 years. Their relationship survived two years in the Peace Corps, spending every minute of every day and night together while living in a tiny African village. It survived the birth of twins and the demands of parenting. And then, Tony died.

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Brett Daniel

Brett Daniel had a wonderful life. He and his wife, Sarah, were young, healthy and in love. But one morning last year, their life together nearly ended.

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Sue Nixon

On Valentine’s Day, Sue should have been at Serafina, singing love songs. But as she drove to a lunch meeting that morning, her heart stopped. Her breathing stopped. And her car kept going.

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Tracey Conway

Tracey Conway

When comic actress Tracey Conway collapsed during a live taping of the hit TV show “Almost Live,” audience members thought it was just part of the show. “A hundred people laughed at me. They assumed it was an actor’s pratfall,” Conway says. It wasn’t.

At a little after 10 p.m. on Jan. 21, 1995, Conway experienced sudden death cardiac arrest, an erratic heart arrhythmia that gives no warning and if untreated is virtually always fatal. “I had no breath, no blood pressure and no pulse.” The “Almost Live” cast knew Conway’s nose dive wasn’t in the script and thus began the chain of events that saved her life: a 911 call, citizen CPR from a volunteer firefighter who happened to be in the audience, a swift response from Medic One, airway ventilation and, ultimately, defibrillation.

At 10:19 p.m., after six shocks, Conway finally had a heartbeat again. She had literally died and come back to life.

I lost my only brother to a heart attack and it might possibly be because he lived in another state where they couldn’t give him the kind of emergency care he needed, when he needed it,” says Conway. “Every time a Medic One unit passes me on the street I say ‘God bless you.’ If it hadn’t been for them, I would be dead.”

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George Brace

Bank executive George Brace will always remember Aug. 4, 1990, and his evening at the cinema. But it wasn’t “Presumed Innocent” or Harrison Ford’s acting that made the night unforgettable.

“I’d been having mild chest pains for 30-45 days prior to Aug. 4, but I hadn’t taken them seriously,” recalls George. “I was an active tennis player, in good shape. But sitting in the Factoria theater, the pain hit again, much worse. I passed out and my wife yelled for help.”

Theater patrons called 911 and helped move George to the aisle. The movie was turned off. Thankfully, the movie was well attended and there were medical people in the audience, including a nurse, a pediatrician and a cardiologist.

“They were an absolute life-saver. They helped me until the Medic One team arrived. I was unconscious but I learned later that the paramedics made four attempts to re-start my heart using a defibrillator. That effort failed so they injected a drug directly into my heart muscle.”

The procedure worked, George was rushed to Overlake Hospital and underwent angioplasty treatment instead of surgery.

“My HDL levels were way out of whack and I was put on a course to remedy that.” George believes Seattle-area residents are extremely fortunate to have Medic One. “Medic One is the best in the country. These folks take real pride in what they do. They’re in the business of saving lives and you can absolutely count on them.”

Because of his experience, George has learned how importrant the Medic One Foundation is in guaranteeing the very best training and continuing education for Medic One personnel.

“The Medic One Foundation needs our support. I’d like to make people understand that this is every bit as important as police or fire protection. We all want this extraordinary level of training to continue, and we can ensure that it does by supporting the Medic One Foundation.”

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Ray Jensen

Ray Jensen

It was 11 p.m. on Dec. 25, 1987, that Ray Jensen began to feel a tingling sensation in his left arm. Ray’s wife Joan called 911, and a Medic One team was on the scene within five minutes. Ray was conscious and alert, but suddenly—with the paramedics looking on—Ray went into cardiac arrest. Joan remembers how the team sprang into action. “One medic literally jumped on Ray. He put his fists together and began banging on his chest. Another Medic moved in with electric paddles and they began delivering shocks to try and restart his heart. They were very calm, very confident—and they were working in such a confined space.” The team was successful and Ray was rushed to the hospital where he underwent bypass surgery. Recently, Joan wrote an emotional note to the Medic One Foundation:

“It has been 20 years since a Bellevue Medic One team gave my husband Ray back to me, our family and the two grandchildren that were born a few years later. Twenty years’ your gift to us, and the life that keeps on giving.”

Joan offers the following thought about the Medic One Foundation: “Why support the Foundation? It could happen to you. The money that goes to the Foundation goes to training the medics. This is vital. If that crew hadn’t been top notch, I might not have my husband with me today.”

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George Kuhla

There’s a lot George Kuhla can’t remember about the night of his stroke. But a few details are clear: “Fortunately for me, I had my portable phone in my hand when the stroke occurred. I was able to immediately call 911. Within five minutes the Medic One team was there. They asked me some questions, gave me a shot, and then we were on the way to the hospital. There was no wasted motion, it was just professionals doing their job with great efficiency.”

George was so impressed with the Medic One team that he wishes he could have been a Medic One paramedic. “If I were a young man I’d like to be in the Medic One program. Definitely. We are so fortunate in this region to have that caliber of emergency personnel.”

Through his experience, George has learned that it is the Medic One Foundation that makes such elite paramedic training possible. And he urges his friends and relatives to lend their support. “I would not be alive today if it weren’t for Medic One.”

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Kayla Burt

Kayla Burt

Twenty-year-old Kayla Burt will never forget New Year’s Eve 2002.

Burt, a sophomore guard on the University of Washington basketball team, was quietly ringing in the new year with five teammates at a Seattle home.

“There was a practice scheduled at 8:30 a.m. the next morning—so we weren’t partying. We were just sitting around, watching movies and talking.”

Burt and Loree Payne were in Burt’s room watching the 11 o’clock news when Burt said she felt lightheaded. Moments later she rolled off the bed. She was gasping for breath and turning blue. Shortly after that, her heart stopped.

Burt’s teammates rushed to her aid. One dialed 911. “The Medic One dispatcher Dan Stillwell was unbelievable. He calmed my friends down. He figured out what was going on and told them how to do CPR.”

Thanks to research funded by the Medic One Foundation that proved the value of training dispatchers in telephone CPR, Dan Stilwell was well prepared and knew exactly what to do.

“The training that these people have is amazing,” says Burt. “They can save the life of someone you love. People don’t really think about it until it happens to them, but it’s unreal. I’m here today because of what Dan Stillwell did over the phone. The way he handled my friends—they had panic in their voices. But he calmed them down. Together they saved my life.”

Kayla adds, “I’m extremely grateful every time I see a Medic One vehicle go by. It reminds me of my situation, and I know they’re going to get where they’re going and do everything they can to help the person in need. It’s a powerful feeling.”

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