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Lee County woman given new lease on life

Sherrie Harvey and Mark Brown, center, stand in their Leesburg home with paramedics from Lee County EMS, from left, Pete Radano, Scott Satterfield, Shane Jordan and Hayward Allen. Last month, the four paramedics saved Harvey's life after she was electrocuted.

Sherrie Harvey and Mark Brown, center, stand in their Leesburg home with paramedics from Lee County EMS, from left, Pete Radano, Scott Satterfield, Shane Jordan and Hayward Allen. Last month, the four paramedics saved Harvey's life after she was electrocuted.

LEESBURG, Ga. -- After beating the odds of survival at least twice now in one lifetime, Sherrie Harvey is able to wake up in the morning with a new outlook on life.

On April 6, she was helping her husband prepare their boat to go into the water. In the process, she attempted to hook up a dangling cable that had gotten too close to a power line that was attached to a transformer connected to at least a couple of other houses -- resulting in her getting electrocuted.

At the time, Harvey's husband, Mark Brown, was in the boat holding up the aluminum mast while she was on the ground.

"I immediately realized what happened," Brown said. "It knocked her down, and she wasn't doing well at all."

Within three minutes, more than one ambulance had reached the scene to attend to Harvey.

"She was taking a breath every now and then, but there was no pulse," said Scott Satterfield, one of the paramedics who responded to the call.

The four paramedics who attended to Harvey said she had to be shocked twice. After they got a regular heart rhythm, she was intubated and given an intravenous device.

Once she was intubated, she was already trying to suck on the tube before the bag could be put on.

"Everything worked perfectly on that call," said Pete Radano, another of the paramedics.

Harvey was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. In all, the process took less than 10 minutes.

"They performed all the steps exactly right," Brown said. "They did not go by trial and error; they knew what to do. That's why she's here.

"I was helpless. I was a basket case."

Brown, who has experience working as an electrician, is as much as anybody an advocate of quick and immediate action in such a situation.

"The first 10 minutes of anything that happens anywhere ... the first 10 minutes is when they live or die," he said.

"... I've seen first-hand what power lines can do. That much voltage can take limbs off."

In the moment, Brown had a hard time remembering the number from which he was calling 911 and was unable to provide information on his wife. He had an even harder time leaving her side so paramedics could work on her.

"They were asking me questions on information on her," Brown said. "They said, 'Don't worry about it. Just get in the truck and we'll work it out between here and the hospital.'

"They could have stood there and argued with me for 15 minutes."

Despite the chaos, the hospital was ready for Harvey when the ambulance arrived. It was later determined that the current had traveled through her left hand and exited through her left foot, managing not to cross her heart at all. So she suffered burns on the left side of her body -- which she was treated for at the burn center in Augusta.

Due to a previous brush with death, if the electrical surge had crossed her heart, the outcome might have been very different.

"She had open heart surgery 10-12 years ago because of a tumor on the side of her heart," Brown said. "There are wires in her chest."

Within a week of her shocking experience, Harvey was back at home. After coming back home, the paramedics who had responded to the call came by to see how she was doing.

Since then, it's been hard for Harvey to believe what has happened to her.

"It was four or five days before I was even aware," she said. "When people are talking about it, it seems like a story. I don't remember anything from the day at all. I remember up until the day before at about lunchtime."

Now Harvey is back at work and plans to take advantage of her new lease on life.

"I guess you learn to appreciate everything," she said. "I am looking for my purpose, something I can do for someone else."

She and her husband say they intend to take a trip every year from now on. Next year, they plan to go to the Kentucky Derby, Harvey said.

Being sent out on an electrocution call is fairly rare. In such situations, paramedics at Lee County EMS say, it can be very rare to get patients back, much less get them back without any neurological deficits.

In Harvey's case, even after only a few weeks, it is almost as if nothing happened.

"When you find them in this situation, you usually don't have this good of an outcome," Satterfield said.

Comments

DoctorDorite 1 year, 3 months ago

Great story with great results, now I hear the commissioners want to make firemen out of these guys which certainly is'nt their "calling" and I ask why ? if that happens Lee Co. will be a big loser in the EMS services becoming lacking. These guys see it all and have experiences that most can't comprehend, even the military knows better than this, Paramedics are'nt made regular soldiers for that very reason. BIG BIG mistake if that happens.

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joker581 1 year, 3 months ago

Great job. Cross-training paramedics as firemen isn't all that bad. It does add a bit more manpower at fire scenes and can make it safer as well. What's more troubling are the rumors that the commisioners are considering doing away with the county EMS service entirely and contracting with a private ambulance service. You can bet that if that happens, ambulances will be taken out of service to save money and the ones that are left will be running as many non-emergency transfers as possible in order to make money. You can bet that this story would have had a different ending if it had taken place in Mitchell County with theur new, less effective, EMS service.

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joker581 1 year, 3 months ago

Great job, guys! Cross-training paramedics as firefighters isn't so bad, provided that you do it right and pay them accordingly. In fact, it can be a good thing since it provides more manpower at fire scenes and increases safety for all involved. What should really worry you are the rumors that the commisioners are considering doing away with Lee County EMS as a county service and contracting with a private ambulance service instead. If that happens, you can be certain that ambulances will be taken out of service to save money and the ones that are left will be running as many non-emergency transfers as possible in order to make money. It'll sound like a good deal for the county because the expense of running an EMS service will be eliminated but the level of service provided will be significantly lower and the private company will be making their decisions based on profit and not on what is best for Lee County and its citizens. You can bet that this story wouldn't have had the same happy ending in Mitchell County where half of their ambulances are no longer running.

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