Lin Buchanan, who grew up in Hancock County, is recovering well from his car accident that occurred on Tuesday, September 21. He had been having heartburn, indigestion and another warning sign of heart attack that day, that he wasn’t previously aware; his jaw was hurting. He was driving home from his work at Century Aluminum and had a heart attack while driving.
When Sheriff Dale Bozarth arrived on the scene, he and others removed Lin from his vehicle and placed him on the ground in order to administer CPR immediately. He had a laceration on his forehead and Dale noticed that it stopped bleeding. Lin’s heart had stopped. His face turned black and Dale knew that they had to get him breathing again. The paramedic, Damion Rice, arrived and took over with CPR. Dale drove the ambulance, while paramedics continued to administer CPR in the back, to meet the helicopter that took Lin to Evansville Hospital.
Sheriff Bozarth remembers the details, “When I got there, there were two or three there, they were trying to see what happened and what he needed. He had, probably had a heart attack. He went off the road, went up a steep embankment, went through a fence, turned around and went right back through the same fence and went down a steep embankment and was hanging by his seat belt.
When I approached him, I came around to the driver’s side. I could feel a very light pulse. He was hanging from the seat belt and in a very bad spot. He made a gasp for air. I went around to the passenger side of the vehicle. In 30-35 seconds, his face went from red to dark purple to black. He had a laceration to his forehead and he was bleeding…not a lot. When he stopped bleeding…I knew at that point, that his heart was not beating.”
“Everybody jumped in. I said, ‘we’ve got to get him out of this vehicle now. We’ve got to get him on his back now.’ You could hear the ambulance coming. I reached in and got the seat belt off. We got him out and on the ground. I started CPR. Luckily, about the third cycle of pumps, Damion Rice (the paramedic) showed up and took over. In about 20 pumps, his face turned back to almost a normal color. In a few minutes, the ambulance pulled in. They got out and started using the air bag. One did CPR, while the other one was forcing air. Lin was starting to come back.”
“I drove them over to the high school while the whole ambulance crew was in the back taking care of him. The helicopter landed as the deputy was driving me back to my car. They were loading Lin onto the helicopter when I returned. I talked to Damion again and he said he was breathing on his own. In a matter of 20 minutes, he was breathing on his own. The whole time they had been doing CPR and (air) bagging him. The doctors cooled his body down at the hospital and then slowly heated him back up (Therapeutic Hypothermia Treatment). Daniel Quinn, one of Lin’s close friends, called me and thanked me. I said, ‘don’t thank me, we all did it.’”
Kim Buchanan, Lin’s wife, had been concerned when their daughter Gracie called her and said that she was having trouble reaching Lin on the phone. They drove to Century Aluminum and he wasn’t there. When they received the news, they went to Evansville Hospital.
“What Dale Bozarth did was perfect,” Lin said. “It saved his life,” said Kim. They are both very thankful to Dale, the paramedics and everyone who helped.
Lin was on a ventilator from Tuesday until Thursday. Then Neurosurgeon, Dr. Jason Meckler, put him on Therapeutic Hypothermia Treatment for two days. He said that he had not seen anyone survive this therapy in 20 years of his career. It required Lin to be on ice and then warmed back up for another two days. It was miraculously a success. Lowering the body temperature right away after cardiac arrest can reduce damage to the brain, and increase the chance for the patient to recover.
Lin returned home with his family in Owensboro on Sunday, September 26. He has Physical Therapy and Cognitive Therapy twice a week at Owensboro Health Park. The heart condition that caused the heart attack is hereditary, but Lin said this it “blind sided” him. He said that he has always had his cholesterol checked and there were no previous signs until the day of the accident. He received his 2nd stint last Tuesday. The recovery will be “day-by-day,” he said. He is able to take a short walk outside with their dogs and was even able to attend a good friend’s wedding in Murfreesboro, Tennessee recently.
“It is getting better. It’s too early now to tell,” Lin said. He has had therapy twice so far and has home-work the physical therapists send with him to do.
“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers,” Lin said. When he and Kim attended the wedding, they said there were many people coming up to them and letting them know they had been praying for Lin’s recovery. “We’ve had prayers from allover; people we work with, family and friends,” Kim said.
He will be seeing his primary doctor, Patrick Gipe, in Owensboro, regularly as well as his Cardiologist, Dr. Umsh Jairath, in Evansville. He is maintaining a positive attitude and confident about a full recovery.
Lin has worked at Century Aluminum for almost 26 years. He plans to return to work as soon as he is able. Kim has worked at Valor Oil for 28 years. Their daughter, Gracie, is 18 and a graduate of Owensboro High School.
By Jennifer Wimmer