‘Widowmaker’ heart attack could have taken him.
There’s a long list of things your mechanic can do for you. He can fix your flat, he can replace your water pump and he can save your life.
Thanks to local mechanic Jerome Warren, Tim Potter has a new lease on life.
“Two weeks ago I had been feeling kind of rough from the week before, hadn’t been sleeping well, had some indigestion,” Mr. Potter said. “But none of the typical signs people associate with a heart attack. Chest pain, shortness of breath, arm ache, none of that.”
When Mr. Potter took his wife’s car into Warren’s Complete Auto Care to balance the tires, little did he realize it would be a turning point in his life.
“Sat down in the lobby and was talking to those guys, just like I always do when I go there,” Mr. Potter said. “The next thing I know, I’m just extremely dizzy and I passed out. I was having a heart attack.”
When Jerome Warren saw his friend suddenly fall to the floor, he says his instincts kicked in and he immediately when to his aid.
“I assessed the situation for a few seconds and I realized he was having a medical emergency and I dialed 911,” Mr. Warren said. “As I was talking to them, he was getting a little bit more unresponsive.”
During the call to the 911 dispatcher, Mr. Warren requested EMS personnel from Dunn Emergency Services, which is right across the street from Warren’s, Mr. Potter stopped breathing.
In a scene that could have been unfolding during a television medical drama, Mr. Warren said he moved his friend to the floor immediately.
Without hesitation, Mr. Warren began using the lifesaving techniques he learned in a class at Campbell University in 1995.
“It seemed like an eternity,” Mr. Warren said. “But I think it was only a few minutes. It really was not long.”
To add even more of what Mr. Warren considers to be a “Jesus Moment,” a customer who’s wife had forgotten her umbrella heard the 911 call and immediately ran across the street to Dunn Emergency Services.
“A man walked across the street and asked us if we could check a man out, he thought he had a heart attack,” said firefighter Matthew Lasater. “When we entered the building, a man was doing CPR on him. So we proceeded to continue to do CPR. We provided our basic life support and shocked him a couple of times, got him back and waited for the paramedics to get there.”
Resuscitation of Mr. Potter was a drama which could have left him, at the very least, with lingering problems. During the course of the episode, he stopped breathing at least three times and a defibrillator was used multiple times.
The entire time, Mr. Potter was unaware of what was going on around him, especially the part about the heart attack. It was 37 minutes after the episode began that Mr. Potter started to wake up, with no idea where he was or what had just happened.
“I’m laying on my back at Jerome’s business and I’d never looked at the ceiling before, so there was nothing to recognize,” Mr. Potter said. “I’m laying there thinking, ‘Where am I?’”
The first face Mr. Potter saw was the face of paramedic Shannon Warren.
“My brain was going kind of weird at the moment because I’m still looking at the ceiling and I don’t know where I am,” Mr. Potter said. “Shannon’s above and she goes, ‘Oh, you’re back,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Where have I been?’”
It was then she told Mr. Potter the situation and explained his was headed to the hospital for treatment.
“My mind was telling me it was an angel,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking I was dead, I knew I was alive. But my mind was telling me it’s an angel. So I was just fascinated with that.”
He admits to still having a limited memory of the moments that unfolded in the lobby of Warren’s Automotive that afternoon. But the rest of the next four days were a stark and grim reminder of the reality of the situation.
Mr. Potter had miraculously survived what doctors call a “widow maker” heart attack.
It’s a complete blockage of one of the arteries of the heart, which had restricted blood flow and could have caused irreversible damage to the heart muscle.
Fortunately for Mr. Potter, the quick actions of Mr. Warren were responsible for there being no permanent damage and a second chance on life.
“It was the worst one to have blocked. It was blocked 100 percent,” Mr. Potter said. “They were able to clear it completely and put in a stint. I was blessed as a person could be who had a heart attack.”
For Mr. Warren, it was the realization the elective class he took to have enough credits to graduate college finally paid dividends — it just took over 20 years.
“He’s a miracle from Jesus,” Mr. Warren said. “The main thing is not panicking. Obviously, when you have a medical emergency you do what you’re trained to do — even if it was from 1995.”
Mr. Lasater said the episode was a great example of how important it is for everyone to learn the CPR skills like the ones Mr. Warren used that day a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s very important,” he said. “Time management when it comes to CPR and cardiac arrest is very little. It was very critical in the outcome.”
He said with the blockages on the left side of the heart Mr. Potter endured, the CPR being administered almost at the moment the heart attack began was very instrumental in his survival.
“For him to have the total blockage on the left side it was very critical,” he said. “Especially for that kind of a heart attack.”
The lessons Mr. Potter learned from the episode haven’t been wasted. He says it’s a sign from heaven there are still things to do in his life.
“I guess God has something left for me to do, he’s probably trying to get my attention,” Mr. Potter said. “If you don’t listen, he’ll slap you silly. So I think he did.”
Mr. Potter adds the ordeal had a positive outcome because the people of Dunn are caring and wonderful people, ones who make him glad he chose to move to Dunn a few short years ago.
“I believe God has his hand in everything,” said Mr. Potter, who is a veterinarian in Lumberton. “Who knows, we moved here to find Jerome and this EMS crew so that on that day when he tried to get my attention, he would not have to hurt me to get me to listen.”
-The Daily Record