Heart attack survivor welcomes a new family member

Born and raised in the Calais area, Rhonda and Bob Lyons lead a life that is tightly woven into the local community. Bob works for his family’s towing company and Rhonda is a tech at the local pharmacy. Rhonda is also dedicated to her family. She and Bob have one son, Robbie, and at the end of 2018 they were looking forward to gaining a daughter when he married his fiancĂ©, Alecia, the following summer.

Then one evening in late November 2018, after a day of Christmas shopping, Rhonda collapsed at home. Bob quickly called Robbie, who was just next door, and then 9-1-1. By the time he re-positioned Rhonda onto the floor, Robbie had arrived and immediately began CPR. The local ambulance was on scene a few minutes later and the crew realized she was having a heart attack. They used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to try and re-start her heart. After the third shock, Rhonda’s heart finally began beating again on its own, and they quickly transported her to nearby Calais Regional Hospital.

The emergency department team knew that she needed specialized treatment from the cardiac intervention center at Northern Light EMMC in Bangor, which was nearly two hours away by ground. They called for LifeFlight who could get her there in less time while providing lifesaving care along the way. Despite the best efforts of the emergency room team, Rhonda remained extremely unstable. Worried about the possible lack of oxygen during her ordeal, they began to intentionally lower her core body temperature which has been shown to reduce the chances of brain injury after a cardiac arrest.

When the flight crew landed, they found Rhonda still in crisis. Medic John Malcolm and his partner Nurse Missy McCann placed an arterial line which would allow them to monitor Rhonda’s heart more closely. Missy explained, “With an arterial line, we get a more detailed look at her heart activity. It allows us to assess for presence of pulse more effectively and aids in successful resuscitation.”

After a 28-minute flight back to Bangor, Rhonda was taken to the catheterization lab where a stent was placed to fix the blockage that caused her cardiac arrest. She was kept cool and remained unconscious for about five days. During that time, her family stayed by her side, sharing words of encouragement and comfort. At some point Robbie and Alecia promised Rhonda that if she woke up, they would make plans for a grandbaby soon after the wedding. When she regained consciousness some time later, Bob fondly recalls the first thing she said: “I want coffee… and what’s this I heard about babies?”

Because she received the lifesaving care she needed, Rhonda made a full recovery and was able to attend her son’s wedding a few months after her ordeal. Today, she’s looking forward to becoming a grandmother and watching her family grow and thrive. 

CommSpec Jeremy Bean
Pilot Dave Burr
Medic John Malcolm
Nurse Missy McCann