Responders commended for life-saving rescue
by Kellen Moore
But he lives and breathes thanks in part to a skilled group of first responders whose extraordinary efforts in March offered him a glimpse at life after death.
First responders from Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department gathered Monday in Triplett to recognize three of their own: Fire Chief Doug Berry, Assistant Chief Mark Poteat and first responder Waydell Bicking.
They also presented awards to Fire Chief Robert Reid and Capt. Travis Morrow of Yadkin Valley Volunteer Fire and Rescue, two responders from Caldwell County who also answered the call.
Terry said he doesn't remember much about the day four months ago when he suffered chest pains and went into cardiac arrest. But he's thankful for the rapid care he received that keeps him alive today.
"These people don't get the credit that they deserve," Terry said. "They do some incredible stuff."
First responders and medics responded that day to Terry's home following an emergency call from his wife. The address on Little Rock Canyon Road, technically in Lenoir, is about 15 miles from the Stewart Simmons Volunteer Fire Department and about 14 miles from Yadkin Valley Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
"Considering the location he's in, there's really no reason for him to be alive today," said Terran Berry, fire captain and director of first responders for Stewart Simmons.
The home's steep driveway makes it inaccessible to ambulances, so Doug Berry drove a fire department pickup to the house to retrieve the patient.
As the truck climbed the driveway, an already-gray Terry slumped to the side, suffering cardiac arrest.
The automated external defibrillator refused to fire, as Terry had no detectable heartbeat. He was clinically dead.
Undeterred, Poteat began chest compressions for CPR. The others jumped in to assist.
"All of the sudden, he just improved," Bicking said. "I didn't think we were going to bring him around. That was my first call after I got my certification for EMT, so it was a very good call."
Terry was handed off to Watauga Medics and soon transferred to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Today, the modern-day Lazarus is back at Watauga Medical Center recuperating and says he feels much improved.
He promises he won't be playing doctor this time " he plans to wait for his doctors to tell him when he's well enough to return home.
Successful cases such as Terry's are quite rare. The American Heart Association estimates that less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.
Those who do live often suffer brain damage or cannot breathe without a ventilator.
Doug Berry said he remembered only one other successful "save" after cardiac arrest in his department's history. Some people work in the rescue field for years and never witness such a miracle, he said.
"Take a CPR class if you get a chance, because you never know," Berry advised. "You can't save 'em all, but you can save some."
In addition to marveling at Terry's condition, those who responded are thankful for the partnership formed across county lines that helped lead to a successful outcome.
"We constantly use our neighboring departments," Reid said. "It takes a greater effort than one department can usually perform."
Terry couldn't tell you who picked him up from his house that day. His memories are fuzzy, and he learned only later that he had flatlined on the way out.
But he is grateful now for the help of those first responders and others who provided medical care.
"I never really thought about it until I had to have them " that's when it really gets you, you know " but they're a great bunch of people," Terry said.