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A Gathering of Grateful Hearts

Anthony Cadwalader meets the village that saved his life

Anthony Cadwalader played tennis Wednesday morning, which at first blush isn’t particularly monumental.

But its symbolism is huge considering that just under a year ago – 354 days to be exact – his heart stopped after playing the very same sport. A perfect alignment of heroes came to his aid Aug. 20, 2022, after he collapsed at the tennis courts at Pocono Lake Preserve, a private community in Tobyhanna Township where he typically spends summers with his wife, Jennifer.

“Not one day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to still be here.” Anthony Cadwalader, heart attack survivor

Many of those heroes gathered Wednesday at Pocono Mountain Regional Emergency Services in Tobyhanna to celebrate Cadwalader’s second chance. For some, like Pocono Mountain Regional EMS Paramedic Len Dever and EMT Nicole Wieand, it was the first time seeing Cadwalader since last year’s medical emergency.

“It was great seeing him again,” says Dever. “We don’t always get the chance to reconnect with the people we serve.”

Also joining the reunion Wednesday was Trevor Harbison, a senior environmental science major who was working as activities director for the residential community that day. Harbison, now 21, was nearby setting up a softball game when he heard the commotion at the tennis courts. People were yelling for a doctor. Trained in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator (AED) use, he ran toward the tennis courts to see what he could do.

Someone had retrieved an AED, and Harbison grabbed it while making his way to Cadwalader. There was no pulse. After the AED delivered its first shock, Harbison began CPR. He instructed a woman to provide rescue breaths. After more CPR and rescue breaths, Cadwalader’s eyes opened. He coughed. His heart was beating again.

Cadwalader, 59, from Unionville, Chester County, was taken by Pocono Mountain Regional EMS to Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono, where a team was standing by. He quickly underwent a minimally invasive procedure to open a blocked coronary artery. Two days later, he went home.

Words of thanks and praise

LVH–Pocono President Cornelio Catena was on hand Wednesday to thank everyone who had a hand in saving Cadwalader’s life, from Harbison, to the EMS crew, to the heart team at LVH–Pocono. “We’re delighted to have you with us and to celebrate this anniversary,” says Catena.

“Not one day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to still be here,” Cadwalader told the gathering. He acknowledged all who had a role, but particularly Harbison, who he thanked for having both the training and the courage to act. “If it wasn’t for Trevor, I wouldn’t be here today,” he says.

Harbison says he’s known Cadwalader for many years, mostly through Cadwalader’s role in the sailing program at the community. “I always knew who he was and always looked up to him,” Harbison says. The two had lunch about two weeks after Cadwalader was released from the hospital.

Harbison previously said the day he helped save Cadwalader will stay with him forever. “It took a long time to really process what happened,” he says. “All I’ve felt since then is gratefulness. Tony is a wonderful man who cares about his community.”

Cadwalader had high praise for LVH–Pocono. “I can’t say enough about the hospital,” he says. “The triage that I went through when I got there was amazing. It was quick. It was efficient. They had me in the operating room within about five minutes, 10 minutes at the most. It was very comforting being there with such a good team of physicians.”

Ronald Freudenberger, MD, Physician in Chief, Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, also lauded the medical team. “It really takes a community to do what we do together. The training, the team we have at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono, is a fantastic team,” he says. “We have perfected, in my opinion, the process. We study, we rehearse, we look at every minute that passes between when someone begins to have a heart attack and when we can reopen that critical artery and save a life. We’re thankful to everyone who can make this happen and thrilled to celebrate life and celebrate success.”

Cadwalader says he’s humbled by the whole experience and by Wednesday’s gathering. He summed it all up by quoting French writer and philosopher Voltaire. “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Main entrance Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono

Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono

The only full-service heart program in Monroe County

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