John's Story

Restaurant Staff Trained in CPR Save Customer’s Life

Just off his morning shift at Giant Eagle in Bedford, John Woloszyn postponed a painting project at home to head across town to satisfy a craving for barbeque. The Garfield Heights resident was just settling in with his food at Mission BBQ in Parma, when a heart attack struck.

Only a few months earlier, the staff at Mission BBQ had received CPR training from UH Parma Medical Center’s EMS Training & Disaster Preparedness Institute. The Parma Fire Department and the hospital donated an AED to the restaurant, a favorite of local safety forces. The manager dialed 9-1-1 while three nurses, all customers, dashed over to assist John, who was not breathing. The ambulance arrived quickly, and paramedics began working on the 57-year-old man, who had no breath and no pulse.

“The important part is calling 9-1-1 and getting CPR started,” says Joe Toth, Manager of UH Parma’s EMS Institute. “We want the community doing compressions because it keeps blood flowing to the heart and brain until advanced support arrives.”

Links in the Chain

Parma EMS brought John to UH Parma Medical Center, calling a Code STEMI while on route to the hospital so the cardiac catheterization lab team was ready. Interventional cardiologist, Paul Poommipanit, MD, found John’s heart had multiple blockages and was only pumping at about 30 percent, known as the ejection fraction or efficiency of pumping pressure. Dr. Poommipanit initiated therapeutic hypothermia, which slows the metabolism, allowing the brain and body time to heal.

Within a few days, the team performed another cardiac catheterization. Prior to discharge, James Ramicone, DO, implanted a small cardioverter defibrillator that can avert another cardiac crisis. 

“It is because of the entire chain of survival – from first responders at Mission BBQ to the staff and physicians in the ED to the staff and physicians in the cardiac catheterization lab and the Parma CVICU -- that John Woloszyn is alive today and able to tell us his story,” said Dr. Poommipanit, Medical Director of the cath lab at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at UH Parma Medical Center.

“The entire team, including those involved at Mission BBQ, performed spectacularly, having started good CPR within minutes of John’s arrest.”

Two strikes

John knew he had a couple strikes against him already. He has smoked for more than three decades and his father had also had a heart attack in his 50s and died, in spite of a co-worker’s efforts to revive him.

One year before John’s heart attack, he saw a doctor in another hospital system for what they called a “silent heart attack.” A catheterization was performed, though no intervention, and he was sent home with medication, a myriad of questions and an impending sense of doom, with little direction on what he could do to remedy his condition.

John’s daughter, Samantha, who works as a patient care assistant at UH Ahuja Medical Center and recently began nursing school,  was grateful her father was near a UH hospital when his heart attack struck. “He’s a very lucky man,” Samantha said. “He was in the right place in the right time, exactly where he needed to be. UH was just incredible. He’s sticking with UH now.”

Looking back, John realizes his heart attack was five years in the making. Working two jobs, remodeling his house and rebounding from a divorce after 35 years of marriage, John was unware of the toll these silent stressors were taking on his heart.

“I was really pushing it hard and under a tremendous amount of stress and tension,” John said. “It was like I was hit by a train, and I should have died. “But it wasn’t my time – yet. It was a miracle.”

Free CPR Classes

University Hospitals offers free CPR classes to police departments, schools, local businesses and individuals who want to learn how to save lives. For more information, visit uhems.org. Click on the “Public CPR” option in the menu on the left and fill out the request form. A scheduler will contact you.

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