Eric’s Story: Celebrating Life

Eric Haas strolled into the lobby at the Miami Valley Hospital Jamestown Emergency Center on Thursday, Nov. 8 – his 38th wedding anniversary – grinning from ear to ear.

“Hugs for everybody!” he cheered as he embraced anyone he could wrap his arms around. “You guys just have no idea how grateful I am to all of you,” he announced, his eyes welling up with tears.

“And I feel so, so amazing!” he proclaimed, adding that he has been exercising, eating healthfully, and had lost more than 20 pounds since everyone there last saw him.

Silvercreek Township and New Jasper Township EMS crews responded to Eric’s lake house near Jamestown on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, after his wife, Jan, called 911 in a panic when he became unresponsive.

They worked together to restart Eric’s heart and transported him to Jamestown Emergency Center. There, they joined forces with staff to prepare Eric for transport to Miami Valley Hospital via CareFlight Air and Mobile Services. Later that week, Eric underwent open-heart surgery at Miami Valley Hospital to repair multiple blockages.

A Heartfelt Reunion

A reunion with Eric’s caregivers was set into motion earlier this year. While attending a Silvercreek Township council meeting, Eric, who serves as mayor of Fort Thomas, Ky., just outside of Cincinnati, was surprised to be greeted with, “I know you,” after exchanging casual smiles with Silvercreek Fire Chief Steve Payton. The fire chief happened to be part of the crew who treated Eric after he went into cardiac arrest. When Eric returned home to his wife and excitedly said, “Guess who I met!” while showing off a photo of him with the fire chief, the two knew that they needed to reunite with everyone else who saved his life.

Mandy Via, outreach manager for CareFlight, helped coordinate a reunion of several caregivers, including the dispatcher who fielded Jan’s 911 call. To have such a well-attended reunion “just truly echoes why we do what we do,” she said.

Sara Bauersfeld, who helped care for Eric as a nurse at Jamestown Emergency Center, also expressed appreciation for everyone gathered. “One of the biggest things about being out in Jamestown that people don’t always see is how much community it takes,” she said. “We’ve got good quality care, and we’ve got teamwork, and it fulfills me in my role as nurse manager now to know that we’re reaching people.”

Eric’s wife described the reunion, held almost exactly 13 months after the incident, as closure. “Most of the time you don’t know if the patient made it, and we just wanted to share with you that because of you all, every single one of you, he made it,” she told the group.

Just as he hugged everyone initially, Eric went around the room asking all present to tell him about their roles that day.

“I’ve always been grateful to people who do what you do, no question about it. But now I just have a totally different perspective on how important it is and how much you affect people’s lives, and I’m just so grateful that you were willing to show up today so I can say thank you,” he said.

“What a great gift – this is the best anniversary gift ever.”

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