Cleveland firefighter has heart attack while putting out fire

Co-workers saved his life

CLEVELAND - Station 22 in Cleveland is one of the busiest fire companies in the city. Life and death situations are nothing new to the men who fight fires on Cleveland’s east side.

For 44-year-old Kevin Brady, however, little could prepare him for one life-and-death situation: his own.

“It was just a pain I never felt before. I just knew there was something not right about it,” he said.

Brady was having a heart attack. And it turns out, he was experiencing the leading cause of death among firefighters nationwide.

“Cardiovascular disease and heart attack are the number one cause for mortality or death with firefighters,” said Thomas Tallman, EMS director and attending emergency department physician for the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Tallman’s staff knew Brady was having a heart attack before he even made the five minute trip by ambulance to the E.D.

When Brady finished fighting an especially difficult fire on March 10, he noticed chest pain as he took off his mask. He alerted one of his fellow firefighters who immediately took him into the ambulance and got an EKG on him.

The EKG was transferred directly via the internet to the E.D. at the Cleveland Clinic. The cardiology fellow checked the readout on his Blackberry and mobilized the catheter lab.

Within minutes of his arrival at the hospital, Brady was in the cath lab having a stent put in to clear the blockage to his heart.

Brady was out of danger by the time his wife Cathy, who is mother to Brady’s four young children, got to the hospital.

“I, of course, thought the worst. I thought we were going down to the Clinic to get some bad news, but thankfully it was really good news by the time I had gotten there,” she said.

Brady and his family know everything had to happen in just the right sequence for him to have survived the heart attack. They are eternally thankful to his co-workers and the Cleveland Clinic for their quick actions.

Because Brady was treated very quickly, his has little to no damage to his heart and his doctors have given him clearance to return to work April 12 with no restrictions.

“I’m really anxious, you know. I just want things to get back to normal,” he said.

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