Surrounded by her rescuers, Maria Villarta, 40, talks to reporters at Holy Cross Hospital on October 8th before being discharged from the hospital. On September 26th, Villarta suffered a massive heart attack on the beach in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Her husband found her not breathing and without a pulse. Their 11-year-old son called for help and her husband began CPR.  Dr. Michael Farrell was dining at a beachfront restaurant after finishing a shift at Holy Cross Hospital’s Emergency Department. He saw the commotion on the beach and went to investigate. Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue crews arrived and joined by Dr. Farrell began aggressive resuscitative efforts including Induced Cooling by EMS (ICE). This cutting edge procedure was instituted by BSFR in April of this year and involves pre-hospital cooling of heart attack victims using near-frozen medications to lower the patient’s body temperature.

A crowd of nearly 200 cheered as rescuers restored Villarta’s heartbeat and took her to the rescue truck. Dr Farrell alerted Holy Cross’ Emergency Dept. about the case. Holy Cross is a designated ICE Center that provides induced hypothermia, carefully lowering the body temperature. By cooling the patient, it preserves precious oxygen in cells, thus increasing the chances for survival and recovery. Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue is the first metropolitan department in Florida and currently one of a handful of departments in the nation implementing pre-hospital hypothermic resuscitation.

Photo caption: seated, from left to right: Dr. Michael Farrell, Lt. Randy Ovcen, Maria Villarta, Capt. Sharon Snyder. Standing, (L to R): Lt. Tom Kelly, Firefighter/Paramedic David Blue, FF/PM Tom Craven, BSFR Medical Director Nabil El Sanadi, M.D.

Photo by: Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue