Life Saver: An EMT’s Heart Attack Within a Heart Attack

A Detroit emergency worker risks his life to perform CPR

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Ambulance at night, speeding

Many wouldn’t allow someone else to cut in line at the pharmacy, let alone power through one’s own heart attack in order to administer CPR to another heart attack victim. In fact a heart attack is one of the few things one shouldn’t really power through at all. This notion of medical solipsism seems to have escaped Detroit EMT Joseph Hardman as he pounded a man’s heart back to health whilst suffering a series of his own chest pains.

Last Friday, Hardman was transporting a heart attack victim to a nearby hospital when he was hit, according to Hardman, with “a sudden, explosion-type feeling” in his chest. As someone who obviously had first-hand experience diagnosing heart attacks, Hardman knew what was happening to him, although perhaps not the extent of it. “All of the symptoms that present with a heart attack—I was pretty much having them all,” he told CBS Detroit. The EMT suffered a sort of attack known as a widowmaker because of its ability to trigger a sudden,  massive attack.

They tell us on airplanes that in an emergency we should put our masks over our own faces before trying to put them on the faces of troublesome children, so that we don’t deplete our oxygen because we had to waste time trying to force oxygen into another person. In theory this gives us the chance to save others while still saving ourselves. But in this case, Hardman suspended concern for his own health until he was satisfied with the job he did on his patient.

Luckily for the EMT, the safest place to have a heart attack other than in a hospital is in an ambulance on the way to one. His partner was able to take over and get the two men the help they needed almost immediately.

Both Hardman and his patient had stents put into their arteries, and recovered a few beds down from each other.