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Salt Lake City man alive because son refused to drive him to hospital

SALT LAKE CITY – A Salt Lake City man and his doctors said he survived a heart attack because his son would not take him to the hospital.

Bill Zierse recently enjoyed a reunion with the paramedics and doctor who helped save his life. It’s something they say he likely would not have survived under different circumstances.

“It was like an elephant was sitting on my chest and it got really intense,” Zierse said as he described the pain.

The chest pains were mild at first, but then they got much worse.

At first, Zierse wanted to drive himself to the hospital.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you take me?’ And he says, ‘No, I am going to call 911.’”

His son Kelly Zierse said he know it was the right decision to stay home with his father.

“I’m like, ‘First thing we need to do is have an ambulance there and have them assess it and they can start treating him and the hospital will be ready by the time he gets there,’” Zierse explained.

Zierse is also a detective with the West Jordan Police Department and has seen what can happen when people try to handle emergencies like this themselves.

“Six minutes later, they showed up, assessed it and took him,” he said.

That ambulance was much more than a ride to St. Mark’s Hospital.

Bill Zierse with the whole team that worked to save his life. (KSL TV)

“We’re so grateful, yeah. So grateful that they called,” said Tom McKay, a paramedic with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

He said his team prepared Bill Zierse for the emergency room.

“So, they gave me a nitroglycerin pill, and they gave me three of them before I went to the hospital,” he said.

By the time he made it to the hospital, Zierse said a team was already waiting for him and ready to give him the treatment he would need.

He said more than a dozen people helped as he got three stents placed in left anterior descending artery through his left arm.

“Timing is of the essence,” said Dr. Vamsee Yaganti. “Any patient who is ever having chest pain and they think it’s a heart attack is to call 911.”

Yaganti is thankful that he can see his patient alive and well. He said many people do not survive a complete blockage of that artery.

“It is emotional. It’s very rewarding and, you know, makes me feel like I chose the right career path,” he said.

The outcome was most gratifying for Zierse and his wife, Patty Zierse.

“I just know angels were with us,” she said.

They are now celebrating Bill Zierse’s 70th birthday and are still able to spend time with his five children and 26 grandchildren.

All of it was thanks to a stubborn son and a team of professionals who were ready to do their jobs.

You just have to call.

“If you want to have a heart attack, make sure you call 911 because that can save your life,” Zierse said.

KSL 5 TV Live

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