Jordan Crews looked down at his treadmill and saw he only had a few minutes left in his workout. Then, everything went black.
Garett Fusilier, a personal trainer at the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center, was working at a desk feet away from Crews.
“I just happened to look his direction and saw him collapse,” Fusilier said. “I didn’t know what happened, I thought he might have just tripped and fell.”
As he ran to Crews’ treadmill, Fusilier radioed for another staff member to call 9-1-1. When he arrived at Crews’ side, he noticed he was unconscious. Fusilier moved him off the treadmill and felt for a pulse.
There was not one. Crews was in cardiac arrest.
“I immediately rolled him back over and started doing chest compressions,” Fusilier said.
For the next several minutes, Fusilier performed CPR until first responders arrived and transported Crews to Conway Regional Medical Center. Crews was suffering from ventricular fibrillation, which occurs when the lower two chambers of the heart quiver and cause an irregular heartbeat.
“The heart is not effectively pumping blood to the rest of the body in this situation,” said Darren Freeman, M.D., hospitalist at Conway Regional Health System. “Tissues are not getting oxygen and good blood flow, which can be life threatening.”
At the hospital, medical staff checked Crews’ heart for structural damage and found none. The decision was made to put Crews into a medically induced coma and place him under hypothermia protocol, a therapeutic used in the aftermath of cardiac arrest to prevent long-term damage to the patient.
“We deliver cold fluids to actively cool the body,” said Freeman. “With the brain, in particular, when tissues are deprived of oxygen, there are a lot of inflammatory mediators that can cause damage.”
By cooling the body, Freeman said, the processes are slowed.
“Brain tissue is very sensitive to changes in oxygen and blood flow,” said Freeman. “Even for a few minutes, if the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood flow, damage is done.”
Crews woke up intubated in a hospital bed a few days later, and immediately signaled his wife for information as to why he was in the hospital.
“I was very concerned about why I was there, but my wife would tell me what happened and what the doctors were doing,” he said. “She was reassuring so I wasn’t anxious about what was happening to me, I just really wanted to get out.”
The driving force was Crews’ desire to leave the hospital before his son’s first birthday. First, doctors wanted to be sure Crews was not exhibiting signs of brain damage as result of his cardiac arrest. After a few days of tests, the medical staff concluded he was not.
Crews missed being released in time for his son’s first birthday by one day, but most importantly, he’s been on the road to a full recovery ever since.
Crews attributes it to the care he received at Conway Regional Health System from his care at the hands of Fusilier at the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center, to the medical professionals at Conway Regional Medical Center.
Crews is back at the fitness center regularly and makes sure to greet Fusilier any chance he gets.
“Garett is a huge figure in my life, because without him, I would have never made it to the first responders,” Crews said. “I would never have made it to the hospital. He bridged the gap for me from catastrophic event and made it possible for me to receive medical care.”
Early in his stay at Conway Regional, Crews’ wife, Carol, had the option of transferring him to a Little Rock hospital, but chose to keep him there.
“The answer was no because we knew the kind of care we would get here,” Crews said. “It has been exemplary every time.”
Part of that reassurance came four years ago when Conway Regional doctors discovered a near fatal aneurism in Crews’ heart. Following open-heart surgery, Crews made a full recovery.
“Every time we’ve been here in the past, we’ve received such great care,” Crews said. “There’s always someone helping you out, always someone willing to explain things to you — and that goes from a nurse’s assistant to the doctors — it’s just excellence from beginning to end.”