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Patient has emotional reunion with caregivers who saved his life in a parking lot

A West Michigan father collapsed in a Mercy Health parking lot last month. Quick-thinking work by staff saved his life. Today, he got the opportunity to thank them.
Credit: Provided

BYRON CENTER, Mich. — Kevin Mitchell, a West Michigan father of five, doesn’t remember much about Saturday, May 15.

Security footage outside the Mercy Health Southwest Emergency Department in Byron Center, however, saw him pull up to the building that Saturday, walk around his car and collapse onto the pavement, Mercy Health writes in a press release.

Luckily for Mitchell, the parking lot was just as far as he needed to be.

“I was about to go in to see a patient and I remember hearing Mallory yell that someone was down in the parking lot,” said Audrey Adkins, DO, in the release.

“When I got there, I saw Jena doing chest compressions on Kevin. We repositioned him, opened his airway and took turns doing CPR.”

More assistance joined shortly after. They took notice that Mitchell had no pulse, his lips were blue and his face was a shade of gray.

Mitchell went for a long mountain bike ride that morning. He reported to his son that he felt like he had heartburn afterwards. In reality, Mitchell suffered a life-threatening heart attack.

This short amount of time was crucial to keeping Mitchell alive. The group decided moving him would be too many precious moments away from chest compressions.

The Mercy Health team recalls that the location was a strange but ideal location to give CPR. They soon rolled out the emergency crash cart and performed cardiac defibrillation, gave medications and put in an IV – all while standing on the blacktop pavement outside of their workplace on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

“Everybody had a role and they just did it,” said Jena Navis, RN, the first to arrive to the scene. “When I was out there by myself it was the longest two to three minutes, which felt like a lifetime.”

The group’s quick thinking saved Mitchell’s life. He spent the next few weeks recovering in the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Center. The day he left, he attended his daughter’s graduation ceremony from Jenison High School.

While in the hospital, he told Dr. Adkins that “you guys did a good job, my chest is really sore,” reports Mercy Health.

One month after his original visit, Mitchell returned to the Byron Center Mercy Health on Tuesday to reunite with his lifesaving caregivers – this time, he walked right through the front doors.

Dr. Adkins recalled how wonderful it was to see him with color in his face. She smiled and told Mitchell, “You’re the first person I’ve ever done CPR on in a parking lot.”

Mitchell continually thanked them for their dedicated work in their reunion. He shared advice for anyone who hears his story.

“When in doubt, have it checked. Get somewhere you can get care. I don’t know how I felt, but it must have been strange enough for me to get help,” he said.

“With cardiac events, you’re talking minutes between. If I had tried to drive home, I’m not sure I would have made it. These are just wonderful people and they really should be proud of the work they do. What a change in my life. I mean, I have a life because of them.”

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