Dave and Steph have just begun their lives together! But now, Dave is in the battle of his life and Steph is right there beside him. As you can imagine, the trips to the hospitals, the overnights, the medicine and many other factors are causing a huge emotional and financial strain. Kind words, prayers and love take care of the emotional strain, now to help with the financial end of it all. It is a tough time for everyone we understand, but we would love to be able to help out two of the kindest people you could ever meet.
Our goal is to keep them running until finances even out for them, every little bit helps!
*** update Feb 5, 2015***** Dave has now again been Airlifted to St. Michaels CCU, Toronto. Unfortunatly it is a waiting game and the Dr's don't have a lot of answers for them..
Here is an article posted in the Northumberland Today Paper dated January 18, 2015.
COBOURG - Dave Mitchell is alive today thanks to early access to 9-1-1 and Cobourg firefighters.
On the evening of Jan. 3, they literally saved Mitchell’s life after he went into cardiac arrest at his Alexandria Drive home.
Only when the firefighters arrived did they learn the patient was a brother firefighter.
Mitchell, 40, works at Belden Industries and had been a part-time firefighter with Cobourg Fire Department for seven years. He recently resigned from the fire department because he and his spouse Stephanie Kelly Switzer, 38, were days away from moving to Warkworth to start their lives together with their children.
Mitchell had sold his Cobourg home and the couple of planning a romantic holiday in Cuba in a few weeks, but that all changed on Jan. 3 - two years to the day since Kelly Switzer asked his sister if he was single.
On Dec. 29 Mitchell had gone to the emergency room at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) because he felt “winded,” Kelly Switzer told Northumberland Today. They both thought it may have been the stress of the holiday season, or anxiety over the coming move.
But when he didn’t return texts that evening, and finally phoned her, he was emotional and said he was in hospital and hospital staff thought he'd suffered a heart attack.
When Kelly Switzer arrived Mitchell’s parents, Steve and Stephanie, were already in the room and he was hooked up to every machine imaginable.
The next day, he was sent by ambulance to Peterborough hospital for tests. Kelly Switzer said he received excellent treatment at both hospitals.
Mitchell was sent home under strict rules from medical staff and with medication. There would be follow-up as an out-patient.
But after the couple returned from a dinner engagement at Mitchell’s parents' Baltimore home on the evening of Jan. 3 things took a dramatic turn.
“He was on the couch and got up to take his medication,” Kelly Switzer said. “He sat himself down at the kitchen cupboard and said, 'Stef, I don’t feel good.'
“And I said, '9-1-1 not feel good?' And he said, 'Yes,' and sat down and put his head in his arms.”
Mitchell's 18-year-old son Nicholas heard the commotion and came into the kitchen and saw his father in obvious distress.
“I told him to go out to the road and waves the (emergency services) in because we live in a duplex,” Kelly Switzer said.
She tried to keep her spouse talking while speaking with 9-1-1.
Then things went from bad to worse - much worse.
“His colouring changed, his breathing increased really quickly and then decreased twice as fast,” she said. “He made some awful sounds and I knew we weren’t in a good spot.
“I thought he was having a seizure, but I couldn’t get him off the chair into a recovery position. His hands came up to his chest and they were seized. I couldn’t do compressions because of the way he sat himself down.”
Cobourg firefighters Chris Post and Gene Stroeder were the first to arrive.
“When we pulled up we knew our colleague lived in the area,” Post said. “Before that, dispatch had come on the radio, and updated condition of the patient went from chest pains to unresponsive. So we knew we were going to a 40-year-old unresponsive.
“We didn’t know until we pulled up and I asked his son if it was who we thought it was and he assured us it was.”
When the firefighters entered the kitchen Mitchell was unresponsive to stimuli.
“During primary assessment, conditions changed. At that point we believe the patient did go vsa (vital signs absent),” Post said.
“We removed him from the chair in the kitchen onto the floor and asked his spouse to leave the area as we were going to do the best we could to help. We hooked our defibrillator up to him and it did its assessment and advised a shock was advised.”
Mitchell started to breathe on his own after being shocked.
“Not well though, so we helped him with rescue breathing,” Post said. “We wanted to keep the oxygen and blood circulating.”
Firefighters regularly respond to medical assist calls with paramedics, but Post said it’s different when it’s one of your own.
“You have to keep a level of professionalism no matter what you’re doing, but I’ll definitely say between my partner and I we debriefed the call after and we both agreed the anxiety went up when we knew it was our own,” he said. “You try to divide your emotions and help the patient to the best of your abilities but I can’t deny the fact that both my partner and I were emotionally involved for sure.”
Listening to the firefighters working on her spouse, Kelly Switzer was frantic.
“He made the sound my mom made in her final breaths,” she said. “I was devastated.
“I started to panic because they started charging the defibrillator and I knew what that meant. It wasn’t good.
“I prayed, I got sick and I cried.”
Mitchell’s parents rushed in from Baltimore.
Steve Mitchell has been a firefighter with the Baltimore Fire Department for over 30 years.
“I run in the house and see my son on the floor, writhing around,” he said.
“The Cobourg guys tell me they’ve had to shock him.”
“The feeling I had at that moment was, 'Thank God you’re here. You had the training and did what you had to do.'”
Kelly Switzer said that, though it seemed like forever for ambulance to arrive, the fire department were there very fast coming from the fire hall approximately one block away.
“In the heat of the moment you have no concept of time,” she said.
“Being that he lived in town and fairly near the hospital, I’m surprised it seemed to take that long.”
But she said in no way is it a “blame game.”
“I was screaming over and over again, 'This isn’t happening!' and I heard them working on him. Dave’s mom came out and said 'They’ve got a pulse,' but he wasn’t really co-operating.”
Paramedics arrived and tried to stabilize Mitchell before transporting him to NHH.
“It seemed like forever until we got him to Cobourg (hospital), and they really worked hard to get him settled,” Kelly Switzer said.
The staff were “fantastic and worked so hard to get him settled,” she said.
Post stayed with her at the hospital.
“I can’t imagine what they went through to work on one of their own,” Kelly Switzer said of the firefighters. “Words will never ever express how thankful I am.
“I’ve always had a huge respect for first responders but they’ve crawled up my ladder higher.”
As soon as an ambulance was available Mitchell was transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, with his family at his side. Bruised, sore and fatigued, he has been shocked at least four times while in hospital.
On Jan. 17, Mitchell was transferred from the Cardiac Care Unit to a semi-private room. If all goes well he will undergo surgery this week to have an implantable cardio-converter device installed.
The entire family is grateful for the help they’ve received at Northumberland Hills Hospital, Peterborough Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Mitchell’s family has been told it will be a long, slow road to recovery, but they are grateful for what he has - his life.
“Every day is a new day and we’re thankful for it,” said Kelly Switzer. “I am so proud of this town.”
As the Jan. 16 closing date on Mitchell and Kelly Switzer's home approached, firefighters once again came to the rescue.
“They all knew Dave had to move and I started getting texts with them saying, “If there's anything you need, just call.'” Kelly Switzer said.
When the closing date arrived, members of the Cobourg Fire Department arrived to help pack up and move items from the house.
“They had that house emptied in 25 minutes,” Steve Mitchell said.
Members of the Baltimore Fire Department helped unload the items at the couple's new home.
“They were bending over backwards to help my family,” he said.
Having served the Cobourg community as a firefighter Mitchell was looking forward to possibly joining Trent Hills Fire Department, but that dream won't come true.
Kelly Switzer said though he will never be a firefighter again, it meant the world to him for those seven years.
“He loved that job. He loved the public service side of things. Waterfront Festival, smoke alarm.... He truly loved it. Such a respect and brotherhood,” she said.
“Hindsight is 20/20 but I don’t think I would have wanted anyone else to be there first.”
Mitchell’s father said, “I’m pretty sure without the Cobourg Fire Department we’d be at a funeral.”
Looking back at what happened, Post sums it up.
“The system worked,” he said. “Early access to 9-1-1, our response being where we are, time criteria getting there. If I had to elaborate at anything in regards to this call it was 9-1-1 being called early enough for us to be able to help.
“Everything fell into place. When you feel you need help - call.”
Please Help Dave and Stephanie have their happily ever after..
- Kyle Roles
- AnneMarie Bosma
- Shawn Williams
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