One thing that I wanted to mention. Sometimes going to the Doctors office makes no difference. Obviously everyone should see a Dr. for regular check-ups, especially when they reach the age of 40, but sometimes genetics trumps all else. Generally people that die from acute MI's at a young age have a genetic predisposition for such an event. Fathers that died around that age, grandfathers, etc.
I have seen these things many times, sadly, in my 32 years in Fire/EMS.
Maybe it would have made a huge difference had JF seen a Dr. before this happened, but maybe not. Had he ever felt bad? Was he having any symptoms that should have tipped him off to trouble ahead? Was he ignoring warning signs of an impending cardiac event? Was he aware of a family history of this?
Sudden cardiac death is just that, sudden.
What I am trying to get at is that I hope the family doesn't beat themselves up over him not going to the doctor. It may not have made any difference. Not knowing the history makes it hard to determine.
Actually, he did...
Twice in the past year he had episodes in the middle of the night where he got what he described as a "blinding pain" (I'm not sure where) nausea, and a couple other nasty symptoms. He passed out during both of these episodes (one of which was in February of this year). The medical examiner called us and said that he saw an old heart attack that he guessed was about two months old. We're not sure if the episode in February would have been that heart attack. The medical examiner said they present themselves in all sorts of ways (I personally had never heard of a heart attack causing those sorts of symptoms, but I'm not a doctor or a paramedic). I don't think any of us associated it with heart disease, but it still seems like a good reason to see a doctor.
We actually do have a huge family history for cardiac problems. But you're right: It might not have made a difference. My mom and I are trying hard not to beat ourselves up, especially since we never could have forced him to go.
I have a lot of respect for people in your line of work. Thank you for so many long years of service.