Beacon Falls police officer sees emergency from other side

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BEACON FALLS — Bill McCasland is a familiar face to Beacon Falls residents during an emergency. Usually he’s there to help. Last Thursday, he needed it.

The Beacon Falls police officer had just finished his lunch when he thought he felt indigestion. But it wasn’t indigestion—it was a heart attack.

McCasland soon realized that he was embroiled in an emergency and called 911—a number that usually beckons his response.
Calling 911 set in motion the “chain of survival” McCasland said he learned from a class at Beacon Hose Co. No. 1.

“A prompt 911 call sets the chain of survival in motion,” McCasland said, “giving the next two links—CPR and early defibrillation—the greatest opportunity for success.”

McCasland said the response to his emergency was incredible, as fellow officer Caroline O’Bar was there within minutes with oxygen and took his vitals before the ambulance arrived very quickly thanks to Gretchen Leeper, the BHC full-time employee who is able to respond to calls at once.

“The response was immediate,” McCasland said. “I have a real appreciation of the call center and the first responders. I saw the patient’s view rather than the cop’s view. I would always go to a call promptly, but now I see what a rush it really is. I certainly saw why people panic during an emergency.”

McCasland said the AMR ambulance took over, where he took aspirin and nitroglycerin.

“Things were going like clockwork,” McCasland said. “My colleagues, fellow police officers and firemen, were leading and following like a motorcade for the president.”

Jeremy Rodorigo, a director at Beacon Hose and AMR, was waiting at Waterbury Hospital for McCasland and helped escort him to the emergency department.

McCasland said he was immediately treated and went into the cardiac catheter lab, where he said “something went wrong on the monitor.”

“They began pushing faster and were fully running to the lab,” McCasland said. “I was still alert and conscious. I asked what was happening but I could feel myself fading away. Suddenly I was awake and normal again. I asked what happened and they said they had to shock me, but I didn’t feel it.”

Dr. Ehsan Ansari found a complete blockage and inserted three stents, a procedure McCasland called a success.

McCasland wished to thank everyone involved in the chain of survival, from the time he called 911 to the time he was brought to his hospital room for dinner that night.

“This event could not have gone any smoother if it weren’t for the chain of survival and the very professional staff from start to finish,” McCasland said. “Everybody was great.”

The whole episode—from the time he called 911 to the end of the procedure—took about two and a half hours, which was very efficient according to McCasland.

McCasland said he has a new appreciation for the 911 system and emergency responders, even though he’s been a part of the process for years.

“I’ve really grown to appreciate the great job they do,” McCasland said. “It’s harder when you’re a public servant and you feel embarrassed when you have to call them, but I had to. Everybody was wonderful.”

McCasland wanted to make sure people take what happened to him and apply it to themselves.

“It’s not just me, but we all have to learn from this,” McCasland said. “I didn’t have any indication of pain prior to, and then all of a sudden I got chest pains after lunch. I would have thought it was indigestion but it wasn’t. It’s important people understand how serious chest pains are.”