HARRISON COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) — October 22, 2021 was a scary day for one Hopedale man, but we are sharing his amazing story of survival.
Brian Heavilin is alive today and it’s all thanks to fast actions by Hopedale Fire and EMS personnel that saved his life.
After driving all night back home from vacation, Brian noticed he had a small headache. But he didn’t think anything of it so he just went to bed.
The next morning the headache was much worse and after taking some medicine for it, out of nowhere he started gasping for air.
“I couldn’t breath. I could barely get any words out, “said Brian Heavilin.
He went outside to see if that would help. About 30 seconds later he realized it wasn’t and that was when his wife called 911.
Brian’s mom, Toni, who lives right next door, was called over as well.
She said it was totally unexpected.
“I ran over and for a mother to see her son gasping, gasping for breath and couldn’t breath, couldn’t move. I watched his stomach rise gasping for breath. I saw my son more dead than alive,” said Toni Heavilin.
“The next memory I have is being loaded into the ambulance, IVs being put in,” said Brian.
By chance, Chief Mark Marchetta and his two sons M.J. And Austin were all working the same shift that day.
Marchetta was the first one through the door and says he could hear him trying to gasp for air before he laid eyes on him.
He said they knew they were going to have to work quickly to save Brian’s life.
They had to intubate him and he actually stopped breathing at one point on the way to the hospital.
“When you’re using all of your muscles to continuously breath, the body can only do that for so long before it fails and that’s essentially what happened. he just couldn’t do it anymore,” said Marchetta.
At first they thought it could be blood clots, but once they got to the hospital he was diagnosed with COVID-19, double pneumonia, and sepsis.
He was put on a ventilator
Hospital officials gave Brian less than a 10 percent chance to live.
They say the reason he is alive today is in part to the fact that he received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Marchetta says COVID-19 is real, and it needs to be taken seriously.
He says what made a difference that day for Brian’s life was the quick response time and the early recognition of the respiratory symptoms.
“Being a small community you answer calls on people you know, there’s no way to avoid it and again he’s my age, so to see him that sick that quick, you know that kind of makes you take a step back,” said Marchetta.
Brian says he is so grateful that Hopedale is a paid Fire/EMS service.
He says them being so close it saved him life.
He says if they were any farther he might not be here today.
“How do you thank someone for saving your life? I’ll be indebted to them forever,” said Brian
As a way to say thank you for saving her son’s life, Toni and her husband Richard have given the department a $500 donation.
The donation comes from their business Blackie and Sons Paving and will be a yearly donation to the department.