Teacher Meets Her Lifesaver
The date of August 25, 2016, will be a day that Caryn Herren, a local middle school teacher will remember for the rest of her life. Hall Ambulance Unit 342 staffed by Paramedic Field Supervisor Ryan Strange and EMT Samantha Parks responded to Ollivier Middle School for a patient with anxiety type symptoms. Upon making contact, Herren told Paramedic Strange that she has a history of panic attacks, but this was worse than she had ever experienced.
She initially refused transport; asking the paramedic to ‘make her feel better’ and she would stay at work. Relying on his training and experience, Strange encouraged her to be seen at the ER. The patient agreed a
nd was loaded into the ambulance, where Strange provided basic life support care.
While enroute to the hospital, the patient advised Strange that she was feeling faint. She suddenly became unconscious and unresponsive, followed by a seizure. Her condition continued to deteriorate—her breathing slowing to agonal respirations and no pulse.
Immediately, the paramedic elevated his treatment to advanced life support care, initiating CPR and rescue breathes with high flow oxygen. The monitor revealed that her heart was in V-fib, a deadly, unstable heart rhythm. Paramedic Strange placed defib pads onto the patient’s chest and shocked her heart once, continuing CPR and rescue breathes.
As they were arriving to the ER, the patient regained an organized rhythm with a good pulse. The paramedic continued to assist her breathing with ventilations as she was moved into the ER, at which point, she began breathing on her own. The airway was removed and the patient started regaining consciousness.
The Hall Ambulance crew transferred care to ER staff, and by the time they were leaving to be available for the next request for medical aid, the patient was conscious and alert, and on her way to the cath lab.
Just five weeks later, Herren made a full recovery, and was back at school teaching sewing and cooking to the students.
On October 5, Herren was reunited with Paramedic Supervisor Strange and EMT Parks at the Hall Ambulance Community Center, located in downtown Bakersfield. With tears of joy she expressed her appreciation to Paramedic Strange and his partner, for their efforts which she credited as saving her life.
In gratitude, she presented the paramedic crew with plaques that read, “You have never really lived, until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”