Community shares stories of inspiration during annual EMS Survivors Reunion

Caregivers and patients come together in a moment of celebration and gratitude.

Leaders from local hospitals, fire departments and emergency response teams receive awards at the 9th Annual Survivors’ Reunion.

It is a rare occurrence for caregivers, physicians and staff to reconnect with patients whose lives they saved at Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center. However, the Napa County EMS Society’s Survivors’ Reunion, held annually in May, offers a unique chance for caregivers and patients to come together in a moment of celebration and gratitude.

“The event is truly a special opportunity for patients to thank the emergency response and medical teams who saved their lives and for first responders and caregivers to be recognized for their vital work in our community,” said Lois Husted, Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center’s paramedic base hospital and emergency management coordinator and member of the Survivors’ Reunion Steering Committee. “It’s equally rewarding for the providers to be able to see those that they saved and hug them back.”

More than 150 people attended this year’s event at Black Stallion Estate Winery in Napa, which celebrated five local survivors and the bystanders, dispatchers, emergency response, fire and hospital teams who provided them with lifesaving care.

Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center was proud to not only sponsor this event, but also to participate in the event’s planning and program. Andrew Nothmann, M.D., an emergency physician at the Queen, emceed the gathering and Rabbi Ira Book, a chaplain of spiritual care, led a reflection before the survivors took the stage.

Three of those honored shared similar stories, having been treated by physicians and nurses at the Queen and aided by bystanders who stepped in to perform CPR before first responders arrived on scene.

“Immediate CPR can increase someone’s survival with good neurologic outcome significantly and can help maintain blood flow to vital organs,” Dr. Nothmann said. “Bystander CPR from a friend, family member or even a stranger can help save someone’s life.”

During the event, many survivors shared these stories of inspiration as a bystander stepped in to perform CPR before firefighters and paramedics performed life saving care. These first responders then transferred patients to local hospitals, including Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center, where they received lifesaving interventions and care. 

“All of the survivors’ stories highlight the invaluable partnership the Queen has with local first responders and emergency response teams,” said Tarinder Khatkar, chief nursing officer at the Queen. “This collaboration allows patients to receive immediate, leading-edge care that ultimately saves their lives.”

How you can help

There are two steps the American Heart Association urges bystanders to take when cardiac arrest occurs in adults and teens: call 911 and push hard and fast on the center of the person’s chest at a rate of 100 to 120 beats per minute — a skill known as hands-only CPR.

If you don’t know CPR, consider signing up for a class. The American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer databases that list available CPR classes.