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Friday, August 19, 2011

Agnes Cinat died and later thanked paramedics

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Agnes Cinat died the night the Canadian and American women’s hockey teams faced off for the Olympic gold medal game.

On Friday, the 81-year-old grandmother was on hand to talk about it during a reunion of emergency workers and the patients they helped revive.

Cinat said that she was watching the game on television Feb. 25, 2010, when she collapsed.

Her daughter Mary-Lou Cinat-Tino had been popping popcorn in the kitchen when Cinat called to her in a strange voice.

Cinat-Tino, a nurse, performed CPR before paramedics arrived. Paramedics shocked Cinat many times with a defibrillator and gave her several injections of drugs to get her heart pumping, said paramedic Mona Hansen, who had attended Assumption high school with one of Cinat’s daughters.

“My heart just dropped,” Hansen said of recognizing her patient. “It was so hard working on her.”

It took more than 15 minutes to revive Cinat.

“We weren’t sure how it would turn out,” paramedic Dawn Newman said. “When we heard she made it, we were shocked.”

“Usually when we have to work that hard on a patient, there aren’t good results,” Hansen said Friday at the Essex-Windsor EMS’s first survivors’ day, an event to connect patients who survived cardiac arrest with paramedics, dispatchers and firefighters who helped save them.

Newman, who had worked more than six years as a paramedic, said Cinat was the first of her cardiac arrest patients to be revived. It was the second for Hansen.

Barely five per cent of patients who exhibit no vital signs are brought back to life, said Randy Mellow, chief of the Essex-Windsor EMS. If a patient receives CPR, which is comprised of chest compressions and breaths for the distressed patient, the chance of survival jumps 10-fold, said Dr. Paul Bradford, who works in the emergency room at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. Only 20 people in Essex County recovered from not having any vital signs in 2010. Ten attended Friday’s celebration.

Thom Racovitis, owner of Tunnel Bar-B-Q, collapsed in the parking lot of the restaurant on Oct. 26. An employee performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Paramedic Prentice Scott recognized Racovitis right away. It had been 13 years since Racovitis gave the paramedic his first job in Windsor, delivering baked goods. On his first day of work he gave Racovitis his two-weeks’ notice because he got his EMS job.

“I haven’t saved anyone else in 13 years. Isn’t that karma?” Scott said.

Every day since his recovery and every time he saw an ambulance or a paramedic, Racovitis wondered if that was the person who had saved his life.

Getting a chance to meet Scott and the other colleagues who saved Racovitis gave the family a chance for some closure, said Marilyn Racovitis, his wife.

On July 17 2010, Sasha Suvajdzin, 37, jumped into his cousin’s above-ground pool and struck his head on the bottom.

“I heard a crunch and I couldn’t move,” said Suvajdzin, a former tool and die maker. With a broken neck, Suvajdzin was paralyzed, unable to move his arms or legs. His cousin was in the pool with him and he thought Suvajdzin was fooling around. His cousin even brushed against him, but Suvajdzin was unable to touch him to alert him to his distress.

“I was holding my breath and I couldn’t anymore,” he said. His mouth popped open and his lungs filled with water.

“I drowned,” he said. His cousin pulled Suvajdzin out of the water and performed CPR — water gushed from Suvajdzin’s mouth like a fountain.

Suvajdzin was revived by paramedics before he was loaded into an ambulance.

After months of rehabilitation he has full use of his body, although he said his hands don’t work properly.

“It’s a chance at a second life,” said Suvajdzin, who has a son. “I have a chance to do it right.”

Even if a patient is revived, the vast majority die after arriving at hospital because resuscitation is done too late.

“The body might survive, but not the brain,” Bradford said. The window to revive a patient with no vital signs is very small and it takes a minimum of four to six minutes for paramedics or firefighters to respond to an emergency call, Mellow said.

Newman said people are often too embarrassed to do CPR.

“Even if you are doing bad CPR, it’s better than no CPR,” Hansen said. or 519-255-5709 or

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