LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- When Wayne Howard talks about the call he received on July 29th, at first he said he didn’t feel much urgency.
Michael and Maureen McCarthy said the same thing. Michael even admits he was out golfing with his grandson when he got a similar call.
42-year-old Lynn Howard — Wayne’s wife and the daughter of Michael and Maureen — had collapsed while at work. Could it have been exhaustion? Maybe she hadn’t eaten properly that day?
After playing through each of the less severe options, Lynn’s family were called to the hospital in a much more serious tone.
Now they began to understand what had happened: Lynn had suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, and had been rushed to Mercy Hospital.
"I felt as though my life as I knew it when I left the house that morning was over,” said Wayne. “Everything that we had planned for… I just felt like things weren't going to be the same."
But if you can imagine the perfect place to have a cardiac arrest —if there is such a thing—you might as well imagine the home of Sarah Pajak and Jeffery Luke, two trained paramedics with Twin City Ambulance.
As a member of the Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York, Lynn’s normal schedule was altered on the morning of July 29th; four of her normal clients had been assigned to someone else, and now Lynn had two new appointments, including Sarah, who was home recovering from abdominal surgery herself.
It was the first time Lynn had met Jeffery and Sarah, but they wouldn’t be strangers for long.
As Lynn, Jeffery and Sarah sat in their living room to schedule Lynn’s next visit, Jeffery said the mood shifted seemingly out of nowhere.
“She looked up at Sarah and she looked over at me, and she just simply stated 'I just feel really dizzy,'” Jeffery said. “As soon as she finished that sentence, her eyes rolled back in her head and she went unresponsive."
Jeffery immediately began to administer CPR; Lynn was without a pulse.
Sarah helped as well as she could in a limited capacity; she said the adrenaline almost made her forget the stomach full of fresh stitches.
Within 5 minutes, Jeffery says firefighters arrived; within another 5 minutes, an ambulance had arrived.
As much as they could keep track of Lynn’s progress, Sarah and Jeffery tracked her to Mercy Hospital.
It was there that Sarah and Jeffery would meet Wayne, Michael and Maureen; five strangers awaiting news on how Lynn was doing.
And when the news came, nobody could believe what they heard; Lynn was expected to make a full recovery, due in large part to the quick, decisive actions from Jeffery and Sarah.
"To us, Jeff plays it down, because he's an expert, he knows what it's all about,” said Lynn’s father Michael. “To us, he's the miracle. And Sarah is the miracle."
"This was the first one that we were on the other side of things, and able to see a 100% positive outcome,” said Jeffery.
Lynn was released from Mercy on Monday afternoon, with a clean bill of health for the foreseeable future; Wayne said now he’s looking forward to another 42 years together.
Meanwhile, Jeffery and Sarah are freshly engaged; in fact it wasn’t long before Sarah’s surgery that the two decided to tie the knot.
Now, Michael, Maureen and Wayne say they consider Jeffery and Sarah to be part of their family.
“Just the other day, I actually turned to Sarah and said: ‘Well, it looks like our wedding guest list is getting a little bigger now,” laughed Jeffery.
And with Lynn by their side, you can bet Wayne, Michael and Maureen wouldn’t miss it for the world.