One minute, Michael Granelli remembers sipping cappuccino at a Colorado Convention Center café, waiting for a friend and enjoying the afternoon after attending some sessions at the 2012 ACEP Scientific Assembly.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 12 – December 2012
A few moments later, he was on the floor, looking up and a bunch of people hovering over him. He talked to them briefly before emergency services arrived to transport Mr. Granelli to the nearby Denver Health Medical Center.
“It was a very strange experience, being loaded in an ambulance and taken to the hospital with the siren blaring and everything,” said Mr. Granelli, a consultant for Kinolta-Minolta.
“It wasn’t until then that I realized what had just happened. If I hadn’t been in that café…if I had been somewhere else, or if I had just stepped outside for a moment or two, things could have been much different – much worse.”
Mr. Granelli, 63, lost breath and his heart stopped beating while more than 5,000 emergency physicians were within walking distance. He doesn’t mind if people poke fun at the lucky break during a very unlucky medical emergency. And news outlets, including one television station and one local newspaper, chased the story during the four-day convention from Oct. 8-11.
“You have this happen at an emergency physician convention, people are going to talk about that irony,” he said.
One of those physicians first on the scene said there were two things working together that possibly saved a man’s life – access to equipment and physicians there with extensive knowledge of how to use them correctly.
“I was talking to one of my old faculty members when I looked over and saw some commotion in the corner,” Dr. David Pigott said. “I thought I should go over and see what was going on. Two doctors were doing CPR. Somebody got an AED. After one shock, there was no response. Shocked again, he comes back. That was basically it. It worked the way it was supposed to work, and he was able to sit up and talk by the time the ambulance arrived. People responded quickly with CPR, and the AED was right there when needed.”
The response was perhaps even quicker than it would have normally been, however, because two physicians were close enough to notice something unusual.
Former emergency department co-workers Dr. Jerry Edwards and Dr. Jared Snell were catching up when they heard a strange breath coming from the man sitting next to them. Dr. Edwards said it was more of a gasp and caught both of them off guard.
They looked over and noticed that the man didn’t look well. He was still sitting in the chair, but when they went over to him, they noticed his pupils were dilated. They checked for a pulse. Not finding any, they lowered him to the floor and started administering CPR.
“Certainly, we do this kind of thing all the time, but in the emergency department, we have an entire team and all the equipment we would need to address something like this,” Dr. Edwards said. “I used to be an EMT and a paramedic, so for me, it was just rolling back to basic CPR that we teach the public. Sure, there were three highly-trained physicians right there, but it still comes down to basic life support – CPR, calling 911 and having an AED. It was very nice that he had a near-immediate response. He started talking to us and was lucid and coherent. That was quite refreshing.”
Mr. Granelli spent a week at Denver Health and returned home to North Carolina, where he continued his recovery. He said the gratitude he has for the physicians on the scene at the convention center is rivaled only by the care received from Denver Health before leaving.
“Two doctors there in particular, Dr. (Chris ) Colwell and Dr. (Joel) Garcia, were great,” he said. “I can’t say enough about them, and the doctors at the café. I can’t thank them enough.”
And there’s one other thing that Mr. Granelli points out.
“Not that it means anything, that’s not why I’m saying it, but I remember sitting at the café, and I noticed an AED on the wall across from me,” he said. “That couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before it happened.”