McGregor Memorial EMS in the News
Trio save professor having heart attack at fitness center
By BRIAN DEKONING, Democrat Staff Writer
In Foster's Online
Thursday, May 8, 2003
DURHAM — Five months after suffering a heart attack that could have killed him, Marty Lee was shaking hands with a UNH student who saved his life.
Lee, a University of New Hampshire physics professor, was exercising about 5 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the faculty fitness center in the Field House when he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed.
Though he had passed a stress test with his doctor in October, Lee, 57, said he had been having exercise-related chest pains. He said he didn’t think they were serious.
"No way did I realize I was this close to death," Lee said.
With Lee's life hinging on their actions, Robert Burnham, a fitness center employee and senior at UNH, came to the professor's aid with fellow fitness center employees David Edwards and Lisa Macek. The three administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation while 911 was called.
Emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene within three minutes and used a defibrillator to "countershock" Lee's heart, Durham Ambulance Corps President Artie Boutin said.
On April 24, Lee thanked Burnham and the rest of the people who saved his life during an ambulance corps reception April 24 in UNH’s Memorial Union Building.
"I'm just so thankful to be here," Lee said, "so thankful that I got another chance. It's not often in life that you really get to say that someone truly saved my life. I'm incredibly thankful to everyone's efforts."
Boutin presented pins to those who aided Lee, including dispatchers Annamarie Rempfer-Brown and Jennifer McLain, fitness center employees Burnham, Edwards and Macek, emergency medical technicians Travis Fleury and Dana Smith, firefighters Pete Henny and Paul Stevens, DAC paramedic Karen Henny, firefighters Jason Best, Jeff Furlong and Capt. Rick Miller, as well as DAC EMTs Lynn Gentile and Russell Smith.
Boutin said Lee's story was an example of the "chain of survival" that includes access to 911, early cardiopulmonary resuscitation, early defibrillation and early advance care such as medication to save heart attack victims.
According to Boutin, a "low single digit" percentage of victims who suffer heart attacks like Lee's survive outside of hospitals.
"We're here today to increase awareness and show that CPR class really does make a difference."
Lee said his heart attack was triggered by a small blockage in one artery. The blockage was removed by doctors through use of a metal stent, a spring-loaded metal tube that forces the walls of the artery out, according to Lee.
In a coma until 8 a.m. the next day, Lee said he has lost most of his memory from the three days before the heart attack until about three days after.
"The fragility of life does emphasize itself to you," Lee said. "I never realized you could be this close to death and not realize it."
While he was frightened by the incident, Lee, a research scientist, said he was also fascinated by the processes that led to his heart attack.
"This is a whole part of life I virtually know nothing about," Lee said. "Of course it's very interesting, scientifically, particularly when it's your own story."