Right Place, Right Time

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One day last spring, Melvin Stephens decided it was a good day to volunteer at a local 9Health Fair. Little did he know that it would turn out to be the perfect day for him to be surrounded by health care professionals and paramedics. In fact, it probably saved his life.

Stephens had just had blood drawn for some tests and was headed back to his own booth to help other attendees at the popular event, where he has been volunteering for more than 25 years. He suddenly felt thirsty and started out in search of some orange juice. Before he got far, though, he collapsed—right in front of paramedics with the Arvada Fire Protection District.

Doctors later told Stephens that may be the reason he survived the “widowmaker” type of heart attack that he suffered in that moment. Less than 15 percent of people in those cases survive. Being just six minutes away from the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center was a factor, too.

Thankfully, after eight days in the intensive care unit and an intense rehabilitation program, the 76-year-old is back home and looking to the future again. He’s already lost 30 pounds and will continue in a hospital-based cardiac rehab program. Stephens is also making plans to meet with the Arvada paramedic team that he credits with saving his life.

I feel extremely lucky to still be alive,” Stephens says. “I’ve been dealing with heart issues all my life, including having two corrective surgeries—one when I was a teenager and one at 62. I’ve learned how important it is to control the things you can—not smoking, watching my diet and exercising.