Couple credits firemen and new paramedic-level service for saving life

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. - It was a matter of life or death.

On Tuesday night, firemen and paramedics with Central County Fire and Rescue were being honored for their heroic efforts to save a stricken man.

“I think we are looking at life a little differently,” said Jack and Phyllis Hymes, who have been married for 56 years.

Back in April, Mr. Hymes, a healthy 79-year-old grandfather, suffered a heart attack for the first time.

“He had a piece of paper in his hand and was handing it to me and started to say something and he fell back,” Mrs. Hymes said. “And his eyes were opened all the way and his mouth was opened all the way and he was gone.”

Trying to remain calm, she immediately called 911while giving her husband CPR.

“I asked God to help me and tell me what to do,” Mrs. Hymes said.

Firemen with CCFR just happened to be in the couple’s neighborhood when they got the call that afternoon.

The department was the first to arrive before EMS and credits its trained paramedics and newest medical service, called Advanced Life Support (ALS), for saving Mr. Hymes. It’s one of the first fire districts to implement this type of voter-approved, paramedic-level emergency medical care.

“We are able to analyze the cardiac rhythm so that if they are in lethal rhythm we are able to analyze that on the monitor and get them out of that rhythm with defibrillation instead of just an AED,” said Justin Crady, lead paramedic.

The team from St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) arrived and the crews worked together to stabilize Mr. Hymes and get him from the family’s downstairs living room to the ambulance before transporting him to hospital. Within an hour of his heart attack, Mr. Hymes was having heart surgery.

Mr. Hymes said that even though he doesn’t remember anything from that fateful day, he was eager to meet the first responders he considers his heroes.

He got his wish as the men and women who saved his life reunited before the CCFR Board of Directors to exchange plenty of thank you hugs at a recognition ceremony.

“This is a second chance for me,” said Mr. Hymes. “I’m going to make the most of it.”

The department said that their emergency call volume is rapidly increasing due to population growth which means their goal is to have a trained paramedic on every fire truck at all times.