BRIGHAM CITY -- Barry Gardner picked just the right profession to allow him to survive a sudden heart failure that is often fatal.
Gardner, an emergency room doctor, keeled over while working in the ER, where the two nurses at his side quickly worked to save his life.
"In any other place I would be dead," Gardner said.
Feb. 2 was just another busy day in the Brigham City Community Hospital emergency room, said nurses Linda Andersen and Kelli Stuart. Everyone was performing typical tasks: working with a patient, stitching up cuts, ordering tests, taking blood pressure. Then Gardner collapsed.
When the two nurses entered the room, Gardner was lying on his right side and blood was running down his face from the bridge of his nose. Neither nurse could locate a pulse. Stuart grabbed a manual breathing bag and began breathing for Gardner while Andersen ran to call a Code Blue to signal an imminent emergency.
Several other staff members arrived and began helping.
"Dr. Gardner was quickly lifted onto a gurney and rolled into the trauma room," Andersen said. "I kept thinking, 'I'm going to have to go to this man's funeral.' "
Trauma surgeon Dr. Lance Bryce was just arriving to check on another patient. The nurses yelled at him for help and together they started administering shock rhythms to Gardner's heart.
"Everyone held their breath," Andersen said. "Dr. Bryce was yelling at Barry not to do this to him and Kelli was yelling at him to remember his daughters Jane and Madison and to stay here because they needed him."
After what seemed like an eternity, Stuart said, Gardner's heart started again and became normal and stable. He opened his eyes and asked where he was and what had happened.
"Dr. Bryce told Barry he had died and showed him his rhythm strip," Stuart said. "Dr. Gardner could not believe what happened and had no recollection of any of the events. From the time Dr. Gardner collapsed until he was defibrillated was less than four minutes."
Gardner was taken by ambulance to Ogden Regional Medical Center, where he would see cardiologist Michael Diehl immediately. Stuart, Andersen and Bryce went along with him.
After several tests, Gardner was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an inherited disorder that is the leading cause of sudden death in athletes.
Gardner, who had worked out on his stationary bike for three hours the day he collapsed, has seen many patients arrive in the ER with the condition.
"But by the time they presented to the emergency department, they were already deceased," Gardner said. "Never ignore warning signs. If the disorder is in your family, see a genetic counselor to learn which family members need to be screened."
Because of their heroic efforts, Andersen and Stuart recently were given an award by the Utah Department of Health's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness. Both said they are flattered.
"We feel like we only did what anyone else would have done in the same situation, but it is very nice to be recognized," Andersen said. "The best reward is that our friend and co-worker is alive and well."