Heart Doctor Stops His Car to Save Life of Construction Worker

Cardiac arrest survivor Richard Couture with his longtime Electrophysiologist Dr. Christopher Pickett at UConn Health on April 29 during his first check-up a few weeks after UConn Health Cardiologist Dr. Manny Katsetos saved his life with bystander CPR.
Cardiac arrest survivor Richard Couture with his longtime Electrophysiologist Dr. Christopher Pickett at UConn Health on April 29 during his first check-up a few weeks after UConn Health Cardiologist Dr. Manny Katsetos saved his life with bystander CPR.

On April 11 Richard Couture, 56, of Bristol was working his construction job helping to build 10 new homes in West Hartford when his heart suddenly stopped.

Dr. Katsetos
UConn Health Cardiologist Dr. Manny Katsetos performed lifesaving CPR on Richard Couture.

Cardiologist Dr. Manny Katsetos of UConn Health and Lexington Cardiology Associates happened to be driving by.

“Something caught my eye in front of a house, and to my shock, I saw a person motionless on the ground,” said Katsetos, also a graduate of the UConn School of Medicine.

Katsetos jumped out of his car and when Richard was unresponsive and did not have a pulse, immediately performed bystander CPR, until the arrival of the American Medical Response paramedics and EMTs and the West Hartford Fire Department.

“The first responders were fast, smart and professional. West Hartford should be proud,” said Katsetos.

Thanks to the team effort, Richard soon had a pulse and survived his cardiac arrest. He was taken by ambulance to UConn John Dempsey Hospital.

“I only remember waking up in my hospital room,” said Richard. “The doctor is my hero.”

Richard was already being treated with medication for the last five years by UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center for palpitations due to an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. The condition caused him to have symptoms of some lightheadedness, dizziness, and weakness.

Richard’s Electrophysiologist Dr. Christopher Pickett at UConn Health was surprised to be the doctor on-call and finding himself treating his own longtime patient in the Emergency Department.

The cause of Richard’s cardiac arrest was an abnormal heart beat, or arrhythmia, called ventricular fibrillation, which was new and unrelated to his prior abnormal rhythm. As a precaution, Pickett placed an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) under the skin of Richard’s chest that is connected to his heart to prevent his heart from ever suddenly stopping again.

Richard’s message for other construction workers and similar workers out there: “Take your time and pay attention.”

Richard Couture
Richard Couture survived cardiac arrest thanks to bystander CPR by Dr. Manny Katsetos of UConn Health.

He also stresses: “CPR works!”

Richard was successfully discharged home from UConn Health on April 16. He is looking forward to getting 100 percent better and back to work.

“I am still too young to retire,” said Richard.

“Thanks to bystander CPR by Dr. Katsetos and the entire teamwork of the AMR paramedics and EMTs, the town of West Hartford Fire Department, UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s Emergency Department doctors, nurses, and the cardiologists at UConn Health this patient was able to survive and walk out of the hospital five days later with full neurological function,” said Peter Canning, EMS Coordinator at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. “This is an excellent job done by all!”

Learn more about UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at: health.uconn.edu/cardiology