“In this case, payback is a good thing,” said Doug Love.
Twelve years ago, Doug rescued Firefighter/Paramedic Neil Kelly after he was seriously injured. In July, Neil returned the favor as part of the South County Fire team that revived Doug after he went into cardiac arrest.
Doug doesn’t remember much about that day. It was just after lunch when he and his daughter, Nicole, showed up for a carpet cleaning job at the home of Don and Jan Hunsley east of Everett. The Loves were moving their equipment into the house when Doug collapsed on the lawn. He wasn’t breathing and he had no pulse.
Don yelled for his wife to call 911. He and Nicole started CPR. Don had received training at work. Nicole knew CPR from her work as a senior adult in-home caregiver.
Firefighters arrived minutes later and took over. In addition to providing high-performance CPR, the team used a defibrillator to administer an electric shock to restore Doug’s heart rhythm, said Janette Anderson, the lead paramedic on the call. “We shocked him three times and got a pulse back.”
Janette said the early CPR provided by Don and Nicole played a key role in Doug’s survival. “It all starts before we get there – having people trained and calm enough to start compressions,” she said.
Neil said he and Janette were working in the back of the medic unit on the way to the hospital when he recognized his patient as the friend who had rescued him. “Doug didn’t look like himself,” Neil said.
In 2006, Neil and Doug were helping out at a church camp on a lake near Spokane when Neil suffered a major spinal injury after being flipped from an inner tube towed by a boat. “I went head first into the water and everything went black. Next thing I knew I was floating in my life jacket in the water and I started to panic because my arms and legs wouldn’t work,” Neil said.
Doug, aboard his boat, came to Neil’s aid. Doug’s son, Brett, and his friend, Ben Galbraith, lifted Neil by his life jacket and pulled him onto the boat. Doug rushed him to shore and medical aid. Neil had spinal stenosis and had pinched his spinal column when he hit the water. He slowly regained feeling and use of his limbs over the next four days. After extensive neck surgery, he made a full recovery.
Just as Neil’s story had a happy ending, so did Doug’s. Doctors could not pinpoint the exact cause of Doug’s cardiac arrest. They installed an internal defibrillator and pacemaker, a device about the size of a half-dollar, to prevent future problems. Doug continues to regain his strength as he recovers at his Granite Falls home.