Our Patients. Their Stories. Glendon Ingalls
Get CPR-trained. Don’t wait for somebody else more qualified to step up in an emergency.Glendon Ingalls
“Someone said I was playing a really high note when I collapsed.”
But Glendon Ingalls, 63, of Rutland, Vermont, one of two trumpet players in the accompanying band invited to play Dartmouth College’s annual “Dartmouth Idol” singing competition on March 3, 2017, says he remembers nothing beyond the moment he felt he may faint. The band was in the middle of a pre-show sound check when his horn quit and he fell to the ground.
What happened in the ensuing few minutes is the reason Ingalls is able to share his story.
Almost as soon as he collapsed, the show’s production manager, Keely Ayres, coordinated the speedy initiation of life-saving efforts of a small group of bystanders. Rounds of chest compressions and rescue breathing, followed by the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) retrieved from the lobby, revived Ingalls’ pulse and respiration by the time EMTs from the Hanover, New Hampshire, Fire Department arrived on the scene to transport him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC).
Ingalls was stabilized and remained unconscious until the next day. “Shortly after I woke up,” he recalls, “the cardiologist came in and said, ‘There are some things I need to tell you.’”
Aaron Kaplan, MD, in Cardiovascular Medicine, explained that Ingalls, in fact, hadn’t suffered a heart attack the night before, but a cardiac arrest. This syndrome is caused by the heart going into a bad heart rhythm, resulting in little or no blood flow out of the heart. Though not completely understood, these bad heart rhythms are often associated with underlying heart disease. Frequently, as in this case, the patient is unaware that they have a heart problem. “My heart just stopped beating effectively,” he says.
Kaplan also noted, the survival rate of people who experience Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest is approximately ten percent, and among those even fewer walk away with good neurologic function.* Ingalls did not experience these problems because of the immediate response of the bystanders.
After he was stabilized, Ingalls underwent cardiac catheterization, which identified coronary artery disease affecting two of the three major heart arteries. These blockages were fixed by placing stents in a procedure performed by James Devries, MD. To safeguard against another similar event, Kaplan recommended that Ingalls receive an implantable defibrillator, a small, battery-powered device that monitors heart rate and will issue a shock if he enters cardiac arrest. “Because if this should happen again,” Ingalls says, “odds are I won’t be with people who can help me immediately.”
Rajbir Sangha, MD, in Cardiovascular Medicine, implanted the defibrillator near his left shoulder, and a day later, only six days since his pre-show collapse, Ingalls was discharged from DHMC. He left with the blessing of his doctors to resume his busy schedule playing and teaching music. In early June, he did half a dozen performances at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, and he’s right back to hosting Jazz Night every Thursday at the Red Clover Inn in Mendon, Vermont.
He’s found a new passion, too. “When I tell the story of what happened to me,” he says, “I use the opportunity to promote the importance of CPR training and how to use an AED device. You can’t have the attitude there’ll always be somebody else more qualified than you to step up in an emergency.”
Kaplan agrees, and adds, “This case underlines the importance of Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) training, which every adult should do. It also highlights the highly coordinated care system we have developed to treat patients when they have been resuscitated in the field by either bystanders or EMT.”
Ingalls is continually grateful for the heroes who stepped up for him, and for the “nurturing environment of care” he found at DHMC—a remarkable story that ends as it began: on a high note.