Orem woman thanks first responders for saving her life following massive heart attack

Dec 30, 2022, 6:27 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

OREM, Utah — A woman thanked firefighters, paramedics and doctors Wednesday for helping to save her life a year after a massive heart attack left her largely unresponsive for more than 40 minutes.

Judy Williams Monson had previously been in the ICU after developing pneumonia from COVID-19.

“I remember a doctor coming in and saying, ‘I’m going to put you on a ventilator,’ and I said, ‘No, you’re not!’” Monson recalled during an interview with KSL TV. “They didn’t give me a lot of hope for me to make it.”

Monson said, however, her oxygen soon improved considerably, and by the end of the week, she was sent home.

The next day, she spiraled again.

“I did feel pretty bad pain, but then all of a sudden, I didn’t feel anything,” Monson said.

Daughter Mickie Weiss, a nurse practitioner, was there at the time.

“Right in front of me, she had a massive heart attack,” Weiss said. “It was with her LAD (left anterior descending) artery, which they call the widow-maker artery. That’s one where you typically don’t live, and she was 100% occluded.”

Weiss began CPR with emergency crews on the way. Time was already working against first responders from Orem Fire Department when they arrived.

Paramedic Wayne Hamill recalled shocking Monson several times and performing CPR over the next 30 minutes.

“We would shock and she would have a rhythm, and then she would go back out and we would shock her again,” Hamill said. “I called the hospital and they said, ‘You guys can cease efforts.’”

Weiss said it appeared for a time as if someone was going to have to contact a mortuary.

Monson, unaware of the frantic life-saving efforts going on around her, said she saw “some amazing things.”

“All of a sudden, I was standing in front of Jesus,” Monson said. “He didn’t talk to me. I talked to him. I told him, I said, ‘Please don’t take me from my husband. Please don’t take me from my children.’ And I said, ‘You have the power to bring me back.’”

Hamill said as he was pulling some of the equipment away from her, he saw Monson move.

“I looked at the guys, and I went to feel for her pulse, and I said, ‘Guys, we’ve got a pulse,’” Hamill said. “I said, ‘Let’s hook her back up and see what we’ve got going on,’ and they thought I was joking. And sure enough, she had a pulse and a perfusing rhythm, and then she started breathing on her own. It was really neat.”

Monson had been brought back to life. She said doctors and medical professionals at Timpanogos Hospital performed emergency surgery to place stents, all while cautioning family members it was possible Monson suffered brain damage during the ordeal.

A year later, however, she said she showed no signs of brain damage or really any other issues.

On Wednesday afternoon, she and other family members showed up to a fire station to thank those in-person who worked desperately to save her life.

Among those recognized were Hamill, paramedic Jessie Steiner, paramedic Jared Haas, Capt. Brandon Valley and engineer Jayme Rigler.

“It’s just a miracle all the way,” Monson told those in attendance. “I shouldn’t be here. Forty minutes with no heartbeat is a long time and I really shouldn’t be here, but I am. And God has just blessed my family that we can still be together.”

She expressed her gratitude for the first responders’ efforts.

“Thank you — to each one of you — for not giving up on me,” Monson said. “We appreciate it so much.”

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Orem woman thanks first responders for saving her life following massive heart attack