Johnny Bardot was at work on June 20, 2018, pulling a transmission out of a truck at Brad’s Towing in Bourbon, Mo. He remembers telling his boss that his chest was hurting.

“He was sweating and complaining that his chest was hurting,” Brad Cartwright said. “I asked him if he wanted to go into the house and cool off, and he said ‘Yes.’ Johnny doesn’t do air conditioning, so I knew something was wrong.”

Brad and his wife, Carol, called 911 and North Crawford County Ambulance District was on its way. They picked Johnny up and met the Sullivan, Mo., Air Evac Lifeteam crew at a pre-established landing area. Air Evac flew Johnny to SSM Health St. Clare in Fenton – more than 60 miles in about 20 minutes.

The right side of his heart was 100 percent blocked, and the left side was 80 percent blocked. Time is muscle, and STEMI Program Coordinator Amanda Clark knows the sooner a cardiac patient gets to the cath lab, the better his chances of surviving and having a good quality of life.

“SSM Health St. Clare was officially designated a Level 1 STEMI Center on May 15, 2018,” Clark said. “We want the time between the first medical contact and the time when the vessels are opened to be at 90 minutes or less. In the rural areas we serve, it’s really hard to obtain and nearly impossible if the patient goes by ground.”

Johnny received 3 stents in his heart that day, and two days later surgeons placed another stent on the left side of his heart. He went home days after his heart attack.

“I feel 100 times better now,” he said. “I never thought about having a heart attack at 51 years old. That was my worst nightmare. Thanks to Brad, Carol, North Crawford County Ambulance District, Air Evac Lifeteam and SSM Heath St. Clare, I am blessed to be alive.”