WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — On Nov. 29, 2012, Winston-Salem Firefighter Tony Spagnoletti woke up at the fire house with a funny feeling.
“I came downstairs and thought I will sit on the couch and relax and see if this will pass,” Spagnoletti said.
At the time, Spagnoletti was 47 years old and in great physical shape. He had no medical history of heart problems and nobody in his family had ever suffered a heart attack. However, Spagnoletti was having a heart attack.
“The pain started to get real severe. I got on the PA and said Scottie come down. And I remember praying,” Spagnoletti said.
Captain Scottie Emerson took Spagnoletti’s blood pressure, gave him nitroglycerin and called for an ambulance.
“When it is one of your own and you can’t help, that was real traumatizing to me. There was nothing I could do that day to make Tony better,” Emerson said.
Spagnoletti was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. While he was in the emergency room, his heart stopped beating. Spagnoletti was clinically dead.
“I remember my eyesight kind of narrowed and it went to this kind of beautiful graduated light. Like if you were looking across the flat horizon just before the sun crests the sky, if you could picture that. And I remember being at absolute perfect peace,” Spagnoletti said. His heart arrested.
“And then just like that I opened my eyes and said to the nurse next to me what just happened and she said, ‘ We just defibrillated you,’” Spagnoletti said.
The medical team brought Spagnoletti back to life.
“Somebody was looking after him because it happened in the emergency room with the cardiology team and the emergency room team right there,” said Dr. Robert Applegate, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who treats Spagnoletti.
Dr. Applegate said Spagnoletti’s widow maker was completely blocked and needed a stent. The surgery was successful. After seven weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, Tony was back on duty.
“The good Lord worked such a miracle that day. The right people in the right place at the right time. It made a huge difference,” said Emerson. “Every link in my chain of survival was absolutely perfect,” Spagnoletti said.