A Cool Story about Survival
How “ICE” protocol at Falmouth Hospital gave Mr. Betti back his life.
Thomas “Mike” Betti is like the proverbial cat with nine lives. In his 61 years, the Centerville man has survived a combat wound in Vietnam, a broken back, collapsed lung, serious bone infection, cardiac bypass surgery and a benign throat tumor.
But, on Jan. 8, 2009, Mr. Betti almost met his match.
During a tennis tournament at the Falmouth Sports Center, he dropped to the floor in cardiac arrest. Clinically dead, the odds of surviving were against him. Only about 5 percent of cardiac arrest patients survive, according to the American Heart Association.
But, Mr. Betti is here to tell the story, thanks in large part to Falmouth Hospital’s Therapeutic Hypothermia Program.
“Mr. Betti was comatose when he arrived in the Emergency Department, yet days later, was discharged completely intact from a neurological standpoint,” said Thomas Irvine, MD, Falmouth Hospital Intensivist and Director of the Therapeutic Hypothermia Program. “His was a dramatic save.”
The hospital’s Therapeutic Hypothermia, or “ICE,” protocol works by preventing the expected post-cardiac arrest fever that proves devastating to an injured brain. Even a minor rise over the normal body temperature can result in significant brain damage and eventual death, Dr. Irvine said.
The Arctic Sun Temperature Regulation System is the centerpiece of the hospital’s ICE program. The $30,000 computerized system was donated by the Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary in 2008. It allows for controlled cooling of the patient to 90 degrees Fahrenheit via a chilled fluid-filled body wrap. This is then followed by a slow controlled warming over the following 24 hours to the normal body temperature. The care is delivered by specially-trained Cardiologists, Intensivists and Critical Care Nurses.
Falmouth Hospital is one of just 225 of the nation’s more than 5,700 hospitals that have the ice therapy. Cape Cod Hospital has the program and the next closest service is in Boston.
Betti had a better chance of meaningful survival because CPR was begun immediately at the scene. Falmouth EMS paramedics defibrillated Mr. Betti to a survivable rhythm and transport to the hospital was quick. Cardiologist David Urbach, MD, was on scene upon Mr. Betti’s arrival to stabilize him to the best extent possible. Once identified as a successful cardiac resuscitation, the ICE protocol was started by delivering 40-degree F fluids over 30 minutes intravenously to initiate the cooling process.
Doctors originally told Betti’s long-time girlfriend, Cheri Reidl, that while he may not die, it was possible he would be left in a vegetative state. She and her 13-year-old son, Lucas, slept on the waiting room floor for five days, until they knew he was out of the woods.
Mr. Betti recovered fully and returned to his active lifestyle.