It was a joyful Thursday morning when Tad Kimes of Big Coppitt Key was able to meet the Monroe County Firefighters and Trauma Star flight crew who saved his life on July 19, 2019. Kimes presented the emergency responders involved with saving his life the prestigious Phoenix Award, named for the mythical bird who rises from the ashes unscathed. The average survival rate for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is about 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association.
Monroe County Fire Rescue Station 9 responded to an unresponsive Kimes after his girlfriend found him on the floor while moving laundry. She immediately started CPR while on the phone with 9-1-1. “I didn’t even know what I was doing,” said girlfriend Darlene Phelan. “I just tried to do what it looked like in the movies.”
With a locked front gate, Monroe County Fire Rescue and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office jumped the wall to take over for Phelan and continued CPR for approximately 40 minutes before stabilizing him enough to transport him to Trauma Star at Lower Keys Medical Center. Within that time frame, Kimes went into cardiac arrest three times.
The Trauma Star flight crew transported Kimes to Baptist Hospital in Miami, where he underwent emergency surgery and had several other complications, which left him in a coma for six weeks and kept him hospitalized for several more months.
“The doctors were telling everyone that if I wake up, I was going to be a vegetable,” said Kimes. “But here I am, I am a fighter, and even the hospital staff called me a miracle man.”
After months of following up, the crew met with him at Station 9 filled with smiles and hugs. “This is the most prestigious moment in a firefighter’s life,” said Deputy Chief Steve Hudson at the event. “This is what makes our jobs worth it.”
Kimes said those involved put in so much that he said he promises not to waste it. As a former world champion boat racer with his father Jim Kimes, he said although he won’t be stepping back into the racing seat, he is glad he will have many more days left in him to be involved with scoring.
Pictured: Flight Nurse Megan Bertini (left), FF Josh Eitel, Lt. Matt Baldwin, survivor Tad Kimes, FF John Guieb, Flight Medic Rafael Calante, and Lt. Manny Leon. Not pictured: FF Gregory Gutierrez and MSCO’s Ty Torres and Kathleen Donovan and Trauma Star Pilot Park Davis.