Citizen, Firefighters and MPD Officers Forge Chain of Survival
for Houston Heart Attack Victim
METRO Police Officers John P. Zepeda and Leonard Wagner were exactly the right guys, at exactly the right time to demonstrate, for us all, what the “chain of survival” really means. Thirty-six-year-old Christopher Gray became the example when he crumpled over at a light-rail station near the Texas Medical Center. An alert bystander lifted Gray from the tracks, shouting to signal Zepeda at the next platform. The officer had been waiting on a rail car with room for him and his canine partner. The space never materialized but this emergency did.
The emergency was a massive heart attack, triggering, as it turned out, a set of events that too often spell tragedy. Gray, a music critic for the Houston Press, can be seen in surveillance video collapsed on the train tracks as a Good Samaritan lifts him up and onto the rail platform and then calls to Zepeda for help. Zepeda responds quickly, continuing the chain of survival – clearing Gray’s airway, beginning chest compressions and enlisting the aid of fellow officer Wagner. The two can be seen alternating lifesaving maneuvers until Houston Fire Department’s EMS crews are able to take over.
METRO Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said, “The training first responders receive is critical to the performance of their jobs, but citizens have a vital role in making sure the links come together. It goes back to the staple “If you see something, say something,” and the reason an alert, engaged public is the first step in the chain of survival.”
The five links in the adult Chain of Survival, according to the American Heart Association are:
• Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of emergency response system
• Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions
• Rapid defibrillation
• Effective advanced life support
• Integrated post-cardiac arrest
A strong Chain of Survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of heart attack, stroke and other emergencies. Medical teams at the Texas Medical Center were able to take over care with necessary specialized equipment, and training. Ask Chris Gray’s family and friends - who are now ready to welcome him back home - they’ll tell you. It worked for them.