Steward’s Phoenix Award Honors Brevard EMS Responders After Lifesaving Call

By  //  March 2, 2019

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Steward Medical Group presents Brevard County Fire Station 26 with Phoenix Award

It all happened in a heartbeat. Tammie Stephenson, 54, was celebrating both her birthday and wedding anniversary at her Port St. John home on Aug. 23. (Brevard EMS image)

BREVARD COUNTY • PORT ST. JOHN, FLORIDA – It all happened in a heartbeat. Tammie Stephenson, 54, was celebrating both her birthday and wedding anniversary at her Port St. John home on Aug. 23.

Her daughter, Rayvan Stephenson, came over for the occasion with her young son. As grandmother and grandson were playing together, Rayvan heard a gasp come from her mother.

It sounded like she was gasping for air. At first, we thought she was still playing with him,” said Rayvan, who lives in Titusville. “But her body became lifeless. We checked for a pulse and she didn’t have one. I called 911 and started doing CPR.”

After EMS personnel came to the house, they administered shocks to get the heart going again and rushed her to the hospital.
Despite the life-threatening ordeal, Tammie is doing well today.

To honor the EMS personnel who responded to this emergency, the Steward Medical Group presented Brevard County Fire Station 26 with a Phoenix Award on Feb. 13.

The award recognizes outstanding treatment of a patient in cardiac arrest who makes a full recovery. That recovery appeared uncertain at several points during the emergency: Even after the CPR and arrival of EMS, Tammie continued to struggle, drifting in and out repeatedly.

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“They shocked my mother once and she came back to life,” Rayvan said. “She coded again. They shocked her and she coded a third time on the way to emergency, so they shocked her again.”

Rayvan’s emergency CPR may well have saved her mother’s life, EMS personnel told her later. She had learned the lifesaving techniques at a job but never had occasion to use it until that day.

“You never think it will happen to you and to your family,” she said. “You see it on TV but you don’t think it will ever happen to you. I never expected I would have to use it.”

The odds were against Tammie, according to American Heart Association statistics. About 90 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest don’t survive.

Getting CPR, however, can as much as triple the chances of survival. The EMS personnel put a tube in Tammie’s throat to facilitate breathing on her way to emergency.

After a week at Rockledge Regional Medical Center and the implantation of a defibrillator, Tammie walked out the door and went home to lead a normal life.

“They were really great,” Rayvan said of the people who came to the house that day. “Nobody hesitated, they all knew what they were doing.”

To honor the EMS personnel who responded to this emergency, the Steward Medical Group presented Brevard County Fire Station 26 with a Phoenix Award on Feb. 13. (Brevard EMS image)

Tammie said she has no recollection of anything that happened during her medical crisis but is happy that her emergency responders received the Phoenix Award.

She and Rayvan were there during the presentation ceremony. “I was just proud that they got it,” Tammie said. “They do a good job and I appreciate them. With the help of the Lord, they saved me.”

She added that she has resumed normal, daily life. “I keep taking my medication every day but other than that, I’m fine,” she said.

Ryan Barrack, lieutenant fire medic at Brevard County Fire Station 26 was on the scene and assisted with the emergency treatment. He was one of seven on the scene: five from the Brevard County Fire Department and two from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department.

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“They all did a phenomenal job,” said Barrack, who has been with the department 10 years. “The station was only half a mile away, so the crew was there very quickly – about three minutes – and was able to facilitate the resuscitation. We had two stellar medics on the scene and they did a fantastic job. I’m happy we were able to assist and do our jobs.”

Kevin Kennedy, EMS manager for Steward Health Care, presented the award to the personnel at Fire Station 26. Kennedy, who has worked in various EMS capacities for 30 years, helped come up with the award idea to honor those who are too often overlooked for their contributions.

“Sometimes the paramedics are underappreciated,” he said. “I felt we should recognize them for the work they do.”

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