It was a pretty spring morning in Georgia, April 18, of last year when Cory Eubanks set out for what seemed to be a normal bike race--not knowing that the day would take a turn that he and his wife could never imagine. Eubanks and his wife Paula enjoy traveling the country in their motor home and from time to time, he gets to ride bikes in places they visit. An avid bike rider, he rides thousands of miles each year. While traveling to North Georgia for a vacation trip last April, Eubanks found a last-minute group ride and jumped in.
Not long after the ride started, he began to feel unwell and within minutes, Eubanks collapsed and experienced sudden cardiac arrest.
“Sudden cardiac arrest is an event where the heart suddenly stops beating or functioning appropriately,” explains Kyle Powers, regional outreach coordinator for the Northeast Georgia Health System. “Unfortunately, this happens all too often. There are approximately 365,000 people who suffer from these events annually. That’s 1,000 people per day. The survival rate for out-ofhospital sudden cardiac arrest is less than 10 percent. However, there are actions we can take to change that.”
Bikers who were in the race with Eubanks immediately stopped and rendered aid. While he was initially conscious and talking, he quickly became unresponsive. Those bystanders jumped into action by calling 911 and starting CPR. Eubanks received continuous chest compressions until the arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and other first responders. When they arrived, they took over the care.
“They worked tirelessly to deliver care in an all-out attempt to save Cory’s life,” Powers said. “Finally, Cory’s heart began to beat again on its own after approximately 40 minutes. The EMS team taking care of Cory communicated closely with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency department and cardiology team at Georgia Heart Institute. They were prepared for his arrival. Cory was quickly taken to the cardiac cath lab where arteries in his heart were opened and allowed the flow of oxygen rich blood to his heart muscle again. From there, Cory was admitted to the Cardiac ICU where he would continue to receive first-class and around-theclock care.”
Although Eubanks had regained a pulse and received cardiac intervention, it was still too early to tell what his outcome might be and the next few days would be critical.
However, the next day would prove to be a bright one for Eubanks, his wife and family and the care team that was at his side. He was beginning to wake up and improve. He continued to show such great improvement day after day, that he was able to go home just five days after the event.
“I was without a pulse for 38 minutes,” Eubanks said. “I’m beyond thankful to be here right now.”
“We’re thankful for all the people who were involved in saving his life,” Eubanks’ wife Paula added. “From the people who performed CPR to the paramedics, to the nurses and doctors at the hospital— we’re so thankful for all of them.”
“Quite often people wonder what makes the biggest differences in cases such as this,” Powers said. “What we know is that it is a system of care that makes such successful outcomes possible. From recognition of the event and early, continuous CPR, to the critical care and interventions performed by pre-hospital care providers, to the emergency medicine staff, cardiologist and critical care teams. Each team carries great impact and is completely reliant on the ones that precede them. It is only through these great collaborations of care that we get to celebrate Cory’s outcome.”
Powers adds that it all starts with community awareness, immediately calling 911, continuous CPR, and early defibrillation by Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s).
“We want everyone in the community to be educated and prepared to act when faced with similar situations,” Powers said. “We see it all the time that when you find those key elements in place, the patient’s chances of survival dramatically improve. It is because of this system of care that Cory is alive today, and back to life as he knew it before the event.”
Part of the Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS), Georgia Heart Institute is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary heart and vascular program offering personalized care across the spectrum of cardiovascular conditions.
The beginnings of the Georgia Heart Institute go back to 1957, when Drs. Sam Poole and Dick Stribling were recruited to launch the hospital’s heart and vascular services. As the years progressed, the first diagnostic cardiac cath was performed in 1984, and the first interventional procedure in 2002. In 2014, The Heart Center officially became a part of NGHS. In March of 2020, NGHS became the first health system in Georgia with hospitals accredited as Emergency Cardiac Care Centers.
The Georgia Heart Institute includes a team of more than 140 cardiologists and advanced practice providers with 14 locations throughout the region. For more information visit, www.GeorgiaHeartInstitute.org