At Dacula’s Station 27, Deborah Walsh meets the emergency personnel who aided her when she went into cardiac arrest last year. From left are communications officer Kate Young, Firemedic Sidney Garner, communications officer Cassandra Ramos, Walsh, Firefighter Bobby Holton and Lt. John McGriff. (Staff Photo: Camie Young)
DACULA — No one wanted to take credit for the heroics that saved Deborah Walsh a year ago.
Not her husband, Robert, who kept calm when the Lawrenceville woman collapsed in her driveway, and began chest compressions almost immediately.
Not the communications officer who helped talk him through CPR and made sure emergency responders were on their way.
And not the firefighters and paramedics who took over the chest compressions, used a defibrillator to get her heart beating again and rushed the woman to the hospital.
But with only 21 of the 332 cardiac arrest calls to Gwinnett County 911 in 2012 were documented as saves, everyone gathered Monday to celebrate the life of the woman, able to reach her 46th birthday.
“Every moment is just precious,” Walsh said, adding that she and her husband were able to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary thanks to the response of the emergency personnel, and she was blessed with another year of watching her children — a high-schooler and a middle-schooler — grow. “This wonderful year that we’ve had wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Firemedic Sidney Garner and 911 operator Cassandra Ramos said this is the first person who they had a hand in saving that they had a chance to met.
“I don’t have the words for it,” Garner said. “It’s hard for us to take the credit when her husband started the CPR that saved her life. … It’s excellent to see her again.”
Ramos, who counted 400 chest compressions on the telephone with Robert, helping him set the pace and remember the training he received in college, said the 911 call-takers often never learn of the end-result of the incidents they participant in.
“I was just doing my job,” she said. “But this is great for me.”
Garner, who is known to say, “Nobody dies in the back of Med 10,” the ambulance that rushed Walsh to the hospital, began a process known as the “iceman” protocol, or therapeutic hypothermia, that cooled Walsh’s temperature enough to save her vital organs.
The process continued at Gwinnett Medical Center, and Robert Walsh said that hours after doctors began to warm her again, his wife woke up able to think, walk and talk.
Other than a day wiped from her memory and a scar on her chest, from surgeries performed to correct a leaky valve and put in a pacemaker, Walsh has few signs remaining of the near-tragedy that occurred last August.
But she wanted to show support to the men and women that work every day to save lives like hers.
“They are my heroes,” she said. “They are the ones that deserve to shine today.”