From Roadside to Recovery

November 3, 2013


Gary McNulty of Hillsboro, Mo., in the center in blue,

is surrounded by some of the team who saved his life.

Pictured in front are Sheila Mueller RN, and Ted Picou;

back row, John Neff EMT-P, Mercy Jefferson president

Eric Ammons, EMS outreach coordinator Justin Duncan,

McNulty, Lt. Jason Bartch, Elaine Bilse EMT-P,

MIke Stanley EMT-P, and Capt. Jason Darian.

Gary McNulty can be forgiven for getting a little emotional. The 51-year-old avid runner is simply happy to be alive.

Out for his daily six-mile run, a little before 6 a.m. on Aug. 23, McNulty collapsed. A passing motorist stopped to check on him and called 911. In minutes, paramedics were on the scene and identified the symptoms of an acute stroke. A helicopter ambulance was quickly en route.

"I went from nearly dying to pretty much 100 percent recovery," McNulty said. "I arrived at the hospital Friday morning and went home Monday afternoon. It was nothing short of miraculous."

When paramedics arrived on Highway A, just east of Hillsboro, Mo., they provided oxygen to the patient, ruled out a blood sugar problem, established vital signs, performed an EKG, started IV access and drew blood for lab tests to be run at Mercy.

The helicopter flew McNulty immediately to Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur, where he was met on the helipad by Emergency Department staff and Mercy Clinic neurologist William Logan, M.D., who began a complete evaluation.

"Mr. McNulty received lifesaving, clot-busting medication at Mercy," said Justin Duncan, Mercy Hospital Jefferson’s EMS outreach coordinator. "This medicine, coupled with the rapid recognition, assessment and treatment in the field not only saved Mr. McNulty's life, but got him back home days later."

For the past four or five years, McNulty has been running about six miles a day, and he runs two or three half-marathons each year. He never expected a health condition to slow him down.

"They said my heart is in great shape," McNulty said. "Like anyone else my age, I battle to keep my weight under control. I never had any symptoms, headaches, dizziness, light-headedness or family history of stroke."

Through his recovery he has been enjoying time with his wife, four adult children and six grandkids under age 3. He also is back to his daily six-mile routine and finished another 13.1-mile half marathon in October.

"It was my slowest time ever, but I couldn't have been happier," McNulty said. "The last six miles were pretty rough."

Eric Ammons, president of Mercy Hospital Jefferson, echoes what many Mercy co-workers feel when they hear a story like McNulty’s.

"I have been in health care more than 28 years, and stories like this are the reason why," Ammons said. "When people and teams perform, and you get outcomes like this, it's why we do what we do. Together we can do great things for the people we serve."

McNulty said he was glad the first responders were recognized with Mercy Lifesavers Awards.

"There is no way to explain what everyone did for me. I hope it helps to inspire others to save another life and encourages medical providers and the community to recognize their efforts," McNulty said. "You have people at Mercy Hospital who went way beyond what could be expected. I am eternally grateful."

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