calvin and brandon

News | 10 months ago

More than right place, right time; training and experience save lives

Luckier than winning the lottery, Atrium Health teammate survives “widow maker” heart attack thanks to good Samaritan, a fellow teammate.

Atrium Health Mobile Medicine paramedic Calvin Cobb was in between patient visits when he came across what he thought was a minor fender bender on the side of a busy road in Cleveland County in early January.

“I was headed back to the hospital when I saw two cars pulled over and a woman in the road trying to flag someone down,” says Calvin. “Something didn’t seem right and then I saw a man lying on the ground and I knew I had to stop.”

And if Calvin didn’t stop, this story would have a much different outcome.

Lying on the ground was 32-year-old Brandon Hord. In laymen’s terms – he was dead. He wasn’t breathing and he didn’t have a pulse. Calvin immediately began CPR and, for a short time, found a pulse. Given he has a wealth of life-saving experience from working in the emergency room at Atrium Health Cleveland to serving as a certified CPR instructor, Calvin knew these moments were critical and continued CPR until first responders arrived.

Too Young for a Heart Attack

Brandon felt pain in his chest for about two days. He wasn’t sure what was happening. Could it be anxiety or something worse? He knew cardiac issues ran in his family, but never suspected a heart attack at such a young age.

When the pain became unbearable, Brandon’s mother drove him to the hospital. On the way there, he tried to call 911 but his heart stopped beating and his mother made the call. That’s how Brandon ended up lying on the ground on the side of the road.

“The last memory I have of that day was trying to call 911,” says Brandon. “And then I remember flashes of a defibrillator and asking the first responders if I could talk to myToo Young For A Heart Attack daughters.”

Brandon says first responders had to “shock” him several times on the way to the emergency room, a total of more than 20 times throughout his care. He was rushed into a cardiac catheterization lab where a stent was placed to open the blocked artery. 

Many would say Brandon is extremely lucky. He says the type of heart attack he suffered is called a “widow maker,” because it’s so often deadly – especially outside hospital walls. But, thanks to several good Samaritans, including Calvin, Brandon lived to celebrate his 33rd birthday on January 23.

“Frantic Couple of Minutes”

Calvin continued CPR as other help arrived. As an instructor, even Calvin is surprised a little when he performs CPR in real life.

“You fall back on your training, it’s like muscle memory,” adds Calvin. “No matter how many times you do it (CPR) there are a million things running through my head, but I remember this is what I need to do next; then this; and your brain and your body just kick into autopilot, in a sense.”

Teammates for Life

Days after Brandon’s heart attack, the two men were introduced and realized they are connected by more than just this life-changing event. Both men work for Atrium Health, within the Mobile Medicine department – Calvin, as a paramedic seeing patients in their home via Atrium Health Hospital at Home, and Brandon as a communication specialist with MedCenter Air, dispatching crews on other life-saving missions.

“I remember his mom saying he works for MedCenter Air but it didn’t click,” says Calvin. “I was focused on the CPR. But, wow, how things work out!”

“It is wild,” adds Brandon. “To have someone you work with in the same department, but don’t know, be able to assist you in your time of need, is incredible and something I am extremely grateful for.”