Luis Campos, 47, doesn’t want to think about what could have happened to him were it not for great neighbors, incredible emergency responders and the terrific care he received at the emergency department at St. Luke’s Easton Campus.
“I was so fortunate that everyone was extremely helpful and knew what to do to provide exactly the care I needed in such a timely manner,” recalled Campos, administrator for the City of Easton.
On Nov. 15, Campos returned to St. Luke’s Easton Campus for an emotional reunion celebrating the remarkable teamwork that saved his life. A number of St. Luke’s caregivers involved in the effort were presented with Hero awards from the American Heart Association.
Back on that evening in early July, Campos, a regular runner, had gone out after making dinner for his children for an evening 2- to 3-miler. Granted, it had been a particularly hot and humid day and temperatures hadn’t dropped much. Also, the air quality was poor thanks to smoke from the Canadian wildfires wafting through Eastern Pennsylvania. And he was just getting over a cold. Whether any of these conditions contributed to his medical emergency, he will never know.
Campos was nearly finishing a route he had taken many times around his College Hill neighborhood when he felt short of breath. A neighbor, also out for run, Ginger Constantin, saw Campos leaning against a car and could tell he was in distress.
“He waved to me, and I heard him say ‘help,’” Constantin recalled.
Campos sat down on the sidewalk and was breathing irregularly. Constantin started to call Northampton County 911. Campos thought for a moment he might be OK and told her to wait. Then he collapsed. The 911 operator told Constantin that Campos needed CPR. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to push hard enough on his chest, she quickly rang a neighbor’s doorbell. The neighbor came out and attempted CPR until help arrived. A few minutes later, the Easton Emergency Squad arrived. Its members took over and administered appropriate medical care before taking Campos by ambulance to St. Luke’s Easton Campus.
Before he collapsed, Campos had the wherewithal to throw Constantin his wallet so she could identify him to 911. When the 911 operator alerted the Easton Campus’s emergency department that Campos was on his way, Joseph Faccio, DO, Chief of Emergency Medicine, overhead the radio call. Dr. Faccio recognized the name. Campos and he had worked together during the COVID-19 outbreak on arranging testing for the city’s firefighters and emergency personnel. A former firefighter for the city of Easton, Dr. Faccio was glad to be able to oversee Campos’ care once he arrived, even though it was a bit unnerving.
“It’s always a bit more stressful working on someone you actually know,” he said.
“It was important that Luis was taken here–less than eight minutes from where he fell ill,” Dr. Faccio said. “In situations like his, every minute is important. Had Luis had to be taken elsewhere it could have been at least another 10 minutes.” Also, Dr. Faccio said, the emergency department at what was Easton Hospital before St. Luke’s acquired it in July 2020 was well-equipped “to handle such critically ill patients who come through our doors.”
Ashlee Vaughn, Director of Operations for Easton Emergency Squad, said the bystander administering CPR was critical to Campos’ survival. Also, she said, “if Easton Hospital wasn’t in operation, it would have delayed the definitive care that he required.”
The team at St. Luke’s determined that Campos had gone into cardiac arrest. Campos doesn’t remember much else about the event, other than he was in an induced coma for three days afterward. When he was better, he was transferred to St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus and was put under the care of cardiologist David Allen, DO. Campos has since had a defibrillator implanted that will monitor his heart and put it back into rhythm should he have another cardiac arrest. He has returned to work, is enrolled in a cardiac rehab program at St. Luke’s and is recovering nicely, he said.
“It was scary,” Campos recalled, “but I’m grateful that my neighbors, emergency responders and St. Luke’s staff were all there for me.”
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.