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Emergency Preparedness Training Saves Instructor's Life in a Heart Emergency

He dedicated his career to providing emergency preparedness training, never expecting his own life would be the one that needed saving

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Steven Kulick dedicated his career to providing emergency preparedness training, never expecting his own life would be the one that needed saving.

On a brisk day in October 2022, emergency responders at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono sprang into action to treat a patient who was suffering a heart attack where his left anterior artery was 99% blocked. This particular event is known as a widow-maker heart attack. Surviving this type of heart attack is not statistically likely, which is why it’s critical for a care team to act quickly to remove the blockage.

Luckily, the patient had the right team at his side. They knew what to do, thanks in part to the man they were treating: Steven Kulick.

Kulick is a certified EMT-paramedic instructor with LVH–Pocono EMS, an American Heart Association (AHA) Coordinator and an EMS Continuing Education and Simulation Lab Administrator at LVH–Pocono. Training and preparedness are at the forefront of everything he does, constantly readying his colleagues for situations like the heart attack he experienced.

“The care our EMS providers and LVH–Pocono emergency department colleagues provide continues to be second to none in Monroe County. It's about people – our ‘family’ we work alongside.” - Steven Kulick, certified EMT-paramedic instructor

He had total faith in their expertise as he experienced firsthand what he teaches every day. His colleagues told him step by step what procedures were taking place, keeping him calm and informed as they raced against the clock.

In the ER, emergency nurses Gia Cirillo, RN, and Emmalie Moyer, RN; emergency medicine physician Jennifer Volpe, DO; and emergency tech Angelique Knect stabilized and prepared him for the next team.

In the cardiac catheterization lab, cardiologist Gordon Freid, DO, respiratory therapist Jessica Cole; registered cardiovascular invasive specialist Brian Ulrich; and nurses Rose Middleton, RN, and Patricia Slutter, RN, cared for Kulick as the blockage in his heart was opened.

As he recovered in the intensive care unit at LVH–Pocono, he credits Alena Reinhart, RN, Lauren Decker, RN, and Kristen Scalzo, RN, with providing exceptional nursing care.

Because of the team’s quick action, Kulick is expected to make a full recovery so he can get back to doing what he loves: helping to save lives. And while he never had any doubts, he knows for sure that the training works.

“I am eternally grateful to our LVHN colleagues and doctors at LVH–Pocono,” says Kulick. “My time is not up. There’s still more teaching to be done.”

Excellent training leads to excellent outcomes

LVH–Pocono is an authorized training center for National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and AHA, which makes it the perfect location for Kulick to expand training opportunities.

Kulick’s mission is to ensure EMS providers and community members are prepared to act in an emergency in the Pocono region. This mission was made even more personal after he experienced a heart attack and received life-saving care at the hospital. Kulick made it his personal goal to give colleagues and the community the tools they need to save lives. Health care providers utilize simulation training to practice skills and procedures in a controlled environment, and Kulick partners with colleagues to start and expand training programs that make it as easy as possible to keep their skills sharp.

“If I can help them with one less issue associated with training or recertification, I’m on it,” he says.

He also fosters collaboration at LVH–Pocono, combining educational courses that allow EMS, nurses and technicians to meet and train together, which has opened the door to better understanding between both sides of the profession.

“I’m very proud to be a member of the LVHN care team and help LVH–Pocono colleagues keep up with education and training,” he says. “To give our patients the best experience, we all need to work together to provide excellent care.”

No one knows the value of this collaboration better than he does – it was this very training that saved him.

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