Boris Guillome experienced sudden cardiac arrest at the movies. Thanks to the kindness of strangers—and the excellent care he received at Queen of the Valley Medical Center—he lived to tell his story.

As he looked back on that fateful day, Boris recalled that as the movie previews started, he felt tightness in his chest. When the pain intensified; he knew something was wrong. Boris staggered towards the lobby, making it only to the ticket stand, where a custodian helped him to a bench. Then everything went black; his heart had stopped.

That’s when the clock started ticking for Boris because “time is muscle.” The faster a physician can restore vital blood flow, the less likelihood there is of long-term damage to the heart muscle.

 Lucky for Boris, Sean Reiswig had just entered the theater with his family. Watching Boris fall to the ground, Sean, whose own father had died from a heart attack exactly two weeks earlier, knew he had to help. While the custodian called 911, Sean checked Boris for breathing, rolled him on to his back and began CPR.

Napa City Fire Department paramedics arrived minutes later and immediately set up communication with the radio nurse at Queen of the Valley Medical Center’s Gasser Emergency Center (ED). The paramedics resuscitated Boris by shocking his heart with an assisted external defibrillator and conducted an ECG—the first test when cardiac arrest is suspected—to record the electrical activity of his heart.

Paramedics sent the ECG results to the ED and while Boris was in transport, the Emergency Department doctor was reviewing his test and assembling a cardiology team.

One minute later after being wheeled through the door, cardiologist Andrew Wong, MD, was at his side and 42 minutes later, Dr. Wong completed a stent placement.

Thankfully, Napa is a “Heart Safe Community.” That means we have established a chain of survival to improve our system for preventing sudden cardiac arrest from becoming irreversible death. With cardiac care a top priority here, the Queen strictly adheres to this program.

“I know my fate may have been very different if it weren’t for the compassion of strangers, the rapid response of the paramedics, the cardiac team at the Queen—and most importantly, our community’s generosity, which helps make high-quality cardiac care a life-saving reality in Napa Valley,” Boris says. “They didn’t save me as just a person, they saved me as a son, a father, a friend.”

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