On the morning of August 7, 2017, Dave Martinez was lying on his living room floor, waiting for an ambulance and praying to God. “I said, ‘Please, I just don’t want to die in front of my grandkids,’” he recalls.
At 62 years old, Dave was just four years into his retirement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He’d been at his daughter’s house picking up two of his grandkids that day when he began to have a burning sensation in his chest. He’d been battling bronchitis, so he thought it was just the illness acting up. But when he noticed that his skin felt clammy, Dave began to suspect a heart attack. When he felt a twinge of pain down his left arm, there was no longer any doubt. “The pain was like elephants with spiked golf shoes standing on my chest,” he says.
“The people at Beverly knew what they were doing.”
Dave was surprised when the ambulance transported him to Beverly Hospital. He’d hoped to be taken to another hospital, where a relative works. But as Dave watched the doctors and staff at Beverly working on him, he knew he was in good hands. After 30-something years in law enforcement, he says, “you get pretty good at knowing when a situation is under control.” “I didn’t know what they were saying, but they were saying it with confidence,” Dave says. “From that moment on, I knew I was going to be OK. I never ever had a concern that I was not going to walk out of that hospital. The people at Beverly knew what they were doing.”
Heart attacks occur when blood to the heart is cut off. In the cardiac catheterization (cath) lab at Beverly, doctors worked quickly to restore that blood flow by installing a temporary balloon pump in Dave’s heart. They implanted the device via a vein in his leg. Linked to a computer, the pump monitored his heart and inflated to increase blood flow as needed until he could have quadruple bypass surgery, which was performed at Beverly.
Fortunate to be alive
Dave was fairly active before his heart attack. Not only was he a law enforcement officer for over three decades, he also skated for the San Francisco Bay Bombers professional roller derby team. But a heart attack nearly got the best of this skating sheriff’s sergeant. Fortunately, emergency responders and Beverly Hospital were there when Dave needed them most. Looking back, he praises the care he received from everyone at Beverly before and after his surgery and throughout his recovery. “I’m standing here today because of them,” he says.
We take special care of hearts at Beverly Hospital. Read about all of our cardiology services at beverly.org/services/cardiology.