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Fast response saves tourist's life

Brodie family

When Aiken, South Carolina, resident Barbara Sue Brodie and her family arrived in Glacier National Park, she had no idea that their vacation would include a stay at Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC).

“We were on a hike in Two Medicine,” said Brodie, “I started having a little bit of pain, and it was hot, and I had said to my daughter that I didn’t feel quite right," she said, "So we cut our hike short to wait for the boat and that’s the last I knew.”

Brodie, her husband, Brad, and daughters Sarah and Amanda made their way back down the trail to the boat dock. Sarah notified park personnel, and within minutes two park rangers arrived. By this point, Brodie had become unconscious. The park rangers gave her oxygen, administered CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to deliver an electronic shock to the heart in an attempt to restore a normal rhythm. Meanwhile, the A.L.E.R.T. helicopter was in route to transport Brodie to KRMC. She arrived at the hospital emergency department in cardiogenic shock, a condition where the heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It is rare, but fatal if not treated immediately.

“Out of hospital cardiac arrest with shockable rhythm, survival is 1 in 4 and the ability to live independently 1 in 10," said interventional cardiologist Mayank Agrawal, MD. "Patients who develop cardiogenic shock (like our patient did) due to this condition have even worse outcome."

Roughly 5 percent of patients experiencing a heart attack develop cardiogenic shock. It is the leading cause of death in heart attack cases, with mortality rates as high as 70 to 90 percent in the absence of aggressive, highly experienced technical care.

Dr. Agrawal performed two PCIs (percutaneous coronary interventions) and implanted a balloon pump for support. But Brodie continued to decline. He then implanted an Impella® device (a small left ventricular assist device that pulls blood from the left ventricle through an inlet area near the tip and expels blood from the catheter into the ascending aorta). This technology, and the expertise needed to implant it, is not widely available, so it was very fortunate for Brodie that KRMC was equipped with both.

“I am incredibly grateful," said Brodie, “The fact that there was a helicopter that could come in and get me ... and then I could come [to KRMC] and have a doctor who has all the knowledge and skill to [treat me]. It’s incredible. It’s a miracle.”

Changing lives through philanthropy

The A.L.E.R.T. program is funded in part by donations to the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation.

Philanthropy gives our community the latest lifesaving equipment, improved facilities and access to highly trained medical professionals. Philanthropic support assures the tradition of excellent health care will continue for our patients and their families for future generations.

When you contribute to the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation, you have a unique opportunity to make a direct impact on the delivery of health care in our community.