CPR, skilled first responders save Nags Head visitor

Published 1:15 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

Vacations are a great opportunity to step away from the normal routine of life. A chance to sit back, relax and enjoy life. And, as expected, some vacations stand out as more memorable than others.

For Tim and Beth Hatfield, their 2018 Outer Banks vacation will probably stand out from most others for quite some time to come.

On the morning of July 21, emergency services personnel were called to the cottage the Hatfields had rented on South Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head for a cardiopulmonary resuscitation event.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

According to Tim Hatfield, it was the end of a generally pleasant vacation stay here with family and friends. Along with his immediate family, the house was crowded with his parents, siblings, some nieces and nephews and a couple of friend.

“We were in the process of packing to head back to our home in Chesapeake,” recalled Tim.

Tim explained that Beth had been a bit dehydrated earlier in the week and after a visit to Outer Banks Urgent Care everything seemed to be in order.

“First thing Saturday morning Beth, passed out in the bathroom,” Tim continued. “Beth was on the floor and when I picked her up and she went limp in my arms. I laid her out and had my friend Steve Stevenson call 9-1-1 to report a medical emergency. She was blue and not breathing so I began CPR immediately.

A former volunteer firefighter for about eight years in Chesapeake, Va. back the 1990s, Tim knew what to do.

“Steve was on the phone with 9-1-1 asking me questions about her condition while his wife went out to flag down EMS,” continued Tim. “They were there in six minutes.”

According to Nags Head Fire Chief Kevin Zorc, when first responders arrived at the scene Tim was already performing CPR on Beth, an action which greatly increased her survival rate.

“EMS came in and shocked her to get her heart back in rhythm,” said Tim. “Captain Wolfe was coming on duty with his shift so he grabbed a brush truck and came over to help.”

Chief Zorc said not only was Beth Hatfield not breathing, she had no pulse. During a recognition ceremony at the October 3 Nags Head Board of Commissioners meeting, Zorc said it was through the immediate, coordinated and advanced medical life-saving actions of the well trained and experienced first responders coupled with Tim’s actions that Beth soon recovered a pulse and was breathing. After a brief stay at Outer Banks Hospital, she was transported to Chesapeake General Hospital and released a few days later.

“It was a nasty day and pouring down rain,” explained Tim. “It was terrible. I told everyone to stay upstairs, but I think my mother slipped down and saw what I was doing from behind me and went back upstairs thinking there was nothing she could do to help. When they took Beth to the hospital I gathered up the family and told everybody to finish packing.”

At Outer Banks Hospital, Tim said he met Fire Chaplin Lawrenson who prayed with him, and stayed with him until Beth’s ER nurse, Rachel Loos, came out with an update.

“Rachel said my wife’s vital signs were strong and as good as ours. She just needed to wake up,” said Tim.

Once Beth was stable, Dare County transported her up to Chesapeake General.

Tim said the medical staff in Virginia continued to check Beth out.

“Her arteries seemed okay and her heart was good,” he said. “It appeared to be an electrical issue. Her potassium dropped for whatever reason and that’s what caused her to have a cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped. They put in a defibrillator pacemaker and when she got out she went back to work and has been fine since. We’ve never had a similar issues in our 30 years together.”

It wasn’t an overnight stay though.

“I spent four days in ICU,” said Beth. “They released me from ICU to go home. It took time to rebuild my strength.”

Beth said it took seven weeks to rebuild her strength to go back to work as an RN at Autumn Care in Chesapeake.

“I’ve had my share of CPR patients,” she said. “The whole event still does not seem to be real but it let me see how it feels to be on the other end.”

Beth said the event may have been brought on from sitting on the beach in the sun and not drinking enough liquids. She said also that she has no memory of the day’s events.

In addition to having a pacemaker, she said it has given her a greater appreciation for what she has.

“I try to be with my family more every day,” she explained. “And I was religious before but probably now even more so now.”

In recognition of the events that took place during their vacation, the Hatfields were at the October commissioners meeting to thank first responders for their efforts.

“Mr. Hatfield’s CPR efforts played a large role in the successful outcome of this event,” said Zorc. “These individuals have achieved and delivered an extraordinary level of excellence in bringing life safety into the lives of others and thereby, displaying outstanding professionalism and compassionate service during a family emergency.”

On hand for the ceremony were Nags Head Fire Captain Wayne Kidd, firefighters Anthony Dillon and Scott Hooper, Chaplain Rick Lawrenson along with EMTs Dallas Willis and Mike Morrison. Nags Head Fire Captain Phil Wolfe was unable to attend.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating and can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Immediate CPR keeps the blood flow active extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site.

According to the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of the more than 350,000 people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States each year die. However, CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

For information about Nags Head’s Fire and Rescue Department or to schedule a bystander CPR class, call 252-441-5909.