Rare ‘code save’ by Grandview EMS workers saves woman from massive heart attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A woman from Grandview beat the odds, and she's lived to tell about it.

Sallie Espinosa said she has first responders to thank for bringing her back from a heart attack. On Wednesday, the 59-year-old spoke exclusively with FOX4 about the March 4 incident that threatened to end her life.

Espinosa, a grandmother of three, said she thought she was experiencing the worst hot flash ever. Instead, she was having a massive heart attack.

Her husband, Charles, called for help as quickly as possible, and three EMTs from Grandview Fire and Rescue reacted quickly enough that Sallie survived cardiac arrest. Statistics prove most people don`t.

"I literally owe them my life," Espinosa said.

Sallie Espinosa

When paramedics Kevin Jelinek, Luis Menedez and Christian Cleeves arrived at the Espinosas' home, they found Charles administering CPR to Sallie. Sallie, who works as a server at a local restaurant, had called her husband home from his job, having realized she was having a heart attack.

"They shocked me three times at the house," Sallie Espinosa said.

To be exact, paramedics and emergency room staffers at St. Joseph Medical Center gave Sallie eight jolts from the defibrilator. She spent two weeks in the hospital's cardiac care unit, where doctors feared she wouldn't make it.

"We gave her every cardiac drug we could give in the field in the ambulance. When we got to the ER, the doc said he didn't have any drugs to give. You pretty much gave them all in the ambulance," Mendez said.

"God intervened on that," Sallie Espinosa said.

Sallie woke up in the hospital two weeks later with no memory of what had happened.

Doctors said she's alive because she realized this was a heart attack from the early moments, even though she didn't show the classic physical symptoms.

For paramedics, making a "code save" and bringing someone back from cardiac arrest is a crowning achievement. Members of that EMS crew said fewer than 5% of cardiac arrest patients bounce back without long-lasting effects.

"Quick recognition. Quick compressions. He got started right away when he got there. We were able to continue that. Speed is a major factor. Knowing our medicines we give," Jelinek said.

Espinosa said she's making lifestyle changes because she won't allow the efforts of those first responders to stand for nothing. Mendez said he's thankful that call for help has a happy ending.

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