National News

How a Sacramento man survived a 'widowmaker' heart attack

Posted May 28, 2018 4:41 p.m. EDT

— A Sacramento man is sharing his story of surviving a "widowmaker" heart attack in hopes of convincing others to avoid letting pride deter them from picking up the phone and calling 911.

"Sometimes you may think it's embarrassing to call. A tough guy might try to tough it out. But that saved my life," said Devin Blankenship, a 41-year old husband and father of two.

Blankenship had just finished playing pickup basketball and showering recently when he said he couldn't stop sweating. He was pale. He also reported feeling stiffness in his chest.

"I just wasn't feeling right. My wife convinced me to call 911," Blankenship said.

Paramedics arrived and persuaded Blankenship to take a ride to the hospital in an ambulance.

"Halfway to the hospital, he experienced a sinkable event. His blood pressure dropped," said Brandon Budd, one of the firefighter/paramedics who responded from Sacramento Fire Station 8.

"Brandon says 'code three' and I turn around to see him putting Devin's feet up. I turned on the lights and sirens to get to the hospital as fast as we could," said Spencer Sinsett, a firefighter/paramedic and Budd's partner on this call.

Within minutes of arriving in the Sutter Hospital emergency room, Blankenship suffered a "widowmaker" heart attack -- a 100 percent blockage in the left artery. Doctors and nurses had to revive him after he stopped breathing.

"They said I had five or 10 minutes and I would've passed away. Every minute counted," Blankenship said.

Now Blankenship is hopeful that sharing his story will convince others not to wait when considering whether to call 911, even if it means drawing attention to yourself by having firefighters at your home.

"I'm just so grateful. I see them and I'm thinking that is what saved his life. If we had waited or hesitated or tried to ride it out, it could've been a really different story," Devin's wife, Lori Blankenship, said.

Devin said he couldn't put into words just how thankful he was for the doctors, nurses and paramedics who ultimately saved his life.

However, his young daughter did put her feelings into words.

"I think they're really nice because they saved my daddy, because I love him," said Aly Blankenship.