The Day an EMT Faced Her Own Emergency – and How a Tiny Pump Helped Save Her Life
Joella was moved to the coronary care unit, where she remained temporarily on Impella support. Joella’s body was cooled and her body was sedated to protect her brain.
The city coroner – Joella’s boss at EMS – told Peter that it was unlikely she would survive. But they weren’t ready to give up. They had hope that Impella would allow Joella’s heart time to rest and recover. At her bedside was Peter, a union sheet metal worker as well as a volunteer firefighter and their son, 24-year-old Jonathan Bobak, a machine shop worker who is a volunteer firefighter with the West Hills Fire Rescue in Johnstown. Joining them were friends, family and fellow firefighters and emergency personnel.
One day, she and her husband were on their way to a cardiac rehab class when they got paged for a heart attack. Despite the fact she still had pain in her chest, Joella insisted that they go to the emergency.
She went in, got down on the floor, and started giving compressions. One of the doctors who had worked on Joella only weeks before was there, and she noticed he was getting a little teary-eyed. She asked him why.
He replied: “I’m so thankful to be on this side with you.”
“I told him, ‘We’ll do this later,’” Joella said.
But the impact of her heart attack on her life has been dramatic.
“It completely changed my life,” Joella said.
“Things that used to bother me don’t anymore,” she said. She freely tells her friends, family and colleagues that she loves them.
She sees her role with the fire department and EMS as bringing compassion and empathy to people who are going through the worst day of their lives.
She is eager to tell her story, talking to group of paramedics, EMS classes, even high schools.
One day she attended a class led by an EMS instructor who had been at the hospital the day of Joella’s heart attack. He put up on the video screen her EKG strip that showed the electrical activity of her heart that day.
The lines on the strip made it “brutally real” for her to understand how close she had come to dying. She had to catch her breath. The instructor asked if she was okay, and she told him she needed a minute.
Impella® Protects the Heart During Cardiogenic Shock
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