In the Right Place at the Right Time: Firelands Employees to the Rescue
Greg Hoiles' Patient Story
Greg Hoiles has a tradition with his wife, daughter and grandson – every summer they travel from Navarre, Ohio, which is 20 minutes west of Canton, to Sandusky. They stay overnight at Castaway Bay, ride roller coasters at Cedar Point and splash around at Soak City for the weekend.
But this year, Greg’s trip included something he hadn’t planned for – a cardiac arrest.
On Sunday, August 7, the 61-year-old finished his trip on the Lazy River when he put his tube down, wandered way over to the right of the waterpark and collapsed. His heart had completely stopped and by all accounts he was dead.
“Initially, there had actually been a mix-up with our tickets and we almost drove home instead of going to the waterpark,” Greg remembers. “I would have been driving down the highway when this happened.”
Luckily for Greg also visiting the waterpark that day were three nurses from Firelands Regional Medical Center along with an EMT and an emergency room physician from Toledo – all who happened to be right by Greg when he went down.
The medical professionals, along with Soak City lifeguards, sprang into action and began working on Greg.
“Them being there was a total miracle from God,” said Greg. “This was a cardiac arrest. I was pretty much dead before I hit the ground.”
Brett and Melissa Fries, a critical care charge nurse and a nursing supervisor respectively, and Kim Nemeth, a nursing supervisor, all with Firelands, used supplies from the lifeguard’s bag to begin administering medication and an IV as well as started hands-only CPR. The EMT shocked Greg three times and the Toledo physician cleared Greg’s airway.
“This is just what we do,” Brett said of why he and Melissa jumped in to assist. “It was amazing that everyone with these skill sets were there. There were so many people at the waterpark and we were all right there when it happened.”
The entire time this was happening, Greg’s family had no idea.
His wife, Deborah had taken their 10-year-old grandson, Hayden, to the restroom. His daughter, Jillian Hamilton, was waiting over by the Lazy River waiting for Greg to float by.
“I saw an EMT run by and I thought a kid had gotten hurt and I started praying,” Jillian recounted.
It wasn’t until Hayden came running that she realized it was her father who needed help.
“Hayden started running toward me yelling ‘It’s Papa. It’s Papa. Don’t let him die!,” she said fighting back tears. “He and my dad are best friends. It still boggles our minds that he wandered all the way over there and collapsed in front of all those people.”
Greg was put on a stretcher and was being taken out to the rescue squad when Deborah saw a small piece of his swim trunks and knew it was her husband. The physician from Toledo looked at her and let her know that he couldn’t find Greg’s pulse.
Melissa said that she didn’t think that Greg was going to survive given the state of his condition.
“I figured we had just bought him some extra time for his family to make it to the hospital to say ‘good-bye’,” she said.
Greg was brought to Firelands Regional Medical Center where Scott Sheldon, DO, cardiologist with North Ohio Heart Center, performed a heart catheterization. It was then discovered that Greg had a congenital heart disease in which the right coronary grew between the aorta and pulmonary artery and could potentially be squeezed. Greg did not know he had this condition. He had always let an active lifestyle. And while earlier in the weekend he wasn’t feeling himself, he shrugged it off.
“This is very rare,” Dr. Sheldon said of Greg’s condition. “This is the first case of this I’ve ever seen.”
Melissa said that situations like this are why she enjoys being a nurse.
“Knowing Greg was ok was an amazing feeling,” she said. “It really rejuvenated my love for nursing and what I do. This made a difference in all of us lives; it really had a profound effect on us.”
Kim echoed Melissa’s sentiments.
“We did the best we could with what we had,” she said. “We worked well as a team and we were able to save his life.”
Greg said that everyone that took care of him while at Firelands was fantastic. Jillian said there was only one thing they were disappointed about.
“We’re just sad that Firelands Regional Medical Center isn’t closer to us,” she said. “It was wonderful there.”