In January, when seventeen-year-old Kelli MacTaggart first felt light-headed one morning at school, she assumed it was from skipping breakfast. Later that day, her dizziness worsened and she fainted while walking between Greenwich Academy and Brunswick School. Her quick-thinking classmates immediately called 911 and her mom, Chrissy.
Kelli woke up briefly to Greenwich Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) first responders and her mother by her side. She has no memory of the cardiac arrest that happened next. The EMTs swiftly performed CPR and used a defibrillator to resuscitate her heart.
Rushing to the Greenwich Hospital Emergency Department (ED) a few blocks away, the technicians were able to transmit vital data from the ambulance’s mobile electrocardiogram (EKG) to the hospital staff awaiting Kelli’s arrival. But Kelli’s heart was not reviving and it took a multitude of ED doctors and first responders to save her life.
Kelli had ventricular tachycardia or V-tach, a type of fast heart rate that arises from improper electrical activity in the ventricles of the heart. Kelli also had severe myocarditis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall, usually caused by a viral infection. The Greenwich team stabilized the teen, who was transferred to Westchester Medical Center and later Columbia Presbyterian for further treatment.
“The staff at Greenwich Hospital was amazing,” said Chrissy. “They were so professional, focused and swiftly went into action, all while making sure I was okay at the same time.”
Chrissy explained that she felt the staff truly cared for Kelli, like she was their own daughter. “I watched them save her life,” she said. “There is nothing I could ever do, say or give to the hospital or GEMS that would be enough to show my appreciation and how grateful my family is for Kelli’s care.”
The MacTaggarts donated $26,000 to purchase a GlideScope and EKG machine from the hospital’s “Wish List”, a compilation of items selected by Greenwich Hospital physicians and nurses who best know their immediate needs for equipment, furnishings, technology and more.
The GlideScope aids in the challenges of a difficult airway, an emergency situation in the field, or the treatment of a preterm child. An EKG Machine provides doctors with critical information needed to diagnose a heart attack. Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department has a goal to obtain all EKG’s within 10 minutes of a patient’s arrival in order to identify the high-risk cardiac patient and begin lifesaving treatment. Both of these pieces of equipment were used to help save Kelli’s life.
A few weeks following the frightening emergency, Kelli and Chrissy stopped by Greenwich Hospital to visit with the Emergency Department and GEMS staff who were happy to see her alive.
“We didn’t think this was going to end well,” said Christopher Davison, MD, medical director of Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department. “Oftentimes, we don’t know what happens to patients once they leave the Emergency Department. Seeing Kelli was an awesome sight.”
Kelli is scheduled for surgery to receive an automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator that is able to perform cardioversion, defibrillation, and pacing of the heart. She is feeling well today.
The MacTaggart family is keenly aware that Kelli’s incident could have ended differently. “There was a lot in place that day to help save Kelly’s life, from her friends who quickly called the ambulance to her location so nearby to the hospital,” said Chrissy. “I’m just so grateful to have her here.”