On April 14, Dave Itrich was working behind the counter at a Shell gas station in Idaho Springs, Colorado. He doesn’t remember much of what happened that day except for someone grabbing his hand.
“He says, ‘I’m here with you. We got you. No matter what we got you.’ And that’s the last thing I remember before I went unconscious,” Itrich said.
Itrich was in the throes of anaphylactic shock, presumably due to exposure to shellfish to which he was allergic. Anaphylaxis is a serious, life-threatening reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance.
Luckily, someone had called Clear Creek Emergency Medical Services who arrived on the scene minutes later.
EMS Captain Clark Church and his co-responders intubated Itrich which involved inserting a tube into his throat to help his breathing.
So I just started preparing for the procedure, drawing up medications, getting intubation equipment ready as they were continuing to treat his immediate life threat, which was his closing airway and respiratory stress.
We would have continued to give him [epinephrine] in hopes that it would work. But worst case scenario is his throat continues to close up and then we have to do what’s called a crike, which is when we cut a hole in his throat and stick a tube in the hole. That’s not good for him.
Itrich spent a number of days in the ICU on life support and was ultimately discharged.
He believes his reaction was caused by touching his face after touching the hand of a customer who was in contact with shellfish.
He was overcome with emotion when he visited the EMS station to thank the first responders personally.
“What is the definition of a hero? The definition of a hero is someone that gives you your life and lets you continue on,” Itrich said.
Said Church: “It’s really nice and refreshing. And it’s very encouraging, I think, especially because the things he remembers was, of course, our medical care, but also that we were kind to him and there for him and that’s very encouraging to let people know that we can do both.”
Itrich showed them his new epinephrine auto-injector which he now keeps with him per doctor’s orders.
“The earlier that you get the EPI on board, the better off you’re going to be,” Church said in regard to fighting severe allergic reactions.
You can see a CBS Colorado news report of Itrich visiting the EMS responders here:
We are thankful Mr Itrich survived this near tragedy and applaud the efforts of the good samaritan who called EMS and Captain Church and the crew of Clear Creek Emergency Medical Services who are indeed heroes.
We remind our readers that epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis, but it only works if administered in time.
If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, make sure you are prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector by your medical practitioner even if you’ve only suffer mild symptoms. Remember, one reaction does not predict the severity of the next reaction.
If you’ve been prescribed epinephrine, be sure to take two along everywhere, every time. Why two? In case the first dose is insufficient to halt the progression of anaphylaxis. Why every time? Because you never know when or how you might be exposed to your allergen of concern.
- Idaho Springs man thanks Clear Creek EMS for saving his life — Clear Creek Courant
- Colorado man thanks Clear Creek County EMS for saving his life: “I was dying” — CBS Colorado