Tony Spagnoletti has spent 27 years responding to emergencies, but on Nov. 29, he was having an emergency of his own; a heart attack at the age of 47.
Spagnoletti, a long-time Elkin resident, is a Winston-Salem firefighter for Station 7 on Country Club Road. It was in Winston-Salem, while on duty, that he suffered a “widow-maker” heart attack. The typical survival rate for a widow-maker heart attack is approximately 5 to 10 percent.
“There are so many things God lined up for me on that day,” he said. “Some call it coincidence; I call it the hand of God.”
On the morning of his heart attack, Spagnoletti said he woke up at 6:30 a.m. with chest pain. “I woke up with chest pain, not really thinking I was having a heart attack,” he said. He took four baby Aspirins just in case, and continued with his morning routine. As the pain persisted, he alerted his fellow fire fighters, who immediately began emergency procedures and called EMS.
Spagnoletti was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he said he remembers his pain completely disappearing. “I remember my eyesight narrowing, and then I was in a perfect peace. No noise. No pain. I saw a colorful soft light somewhat like the horizon just before the sun comes up,” he said.
He then opened his eyes and was told by a nurse that they had shocked him back to life.
Spagnoletti said he believes he would not be alive if it weren’t for the immediate help of his crew at Station 7 and his decision to take baby aspirin.
“I’m here for a reason,” he said “I don’t quite know that that reason is, but there must be one.”
Spagnoletti is now at home in Elkin regaining his health and strength. He will eventually take a stress test to determine if he can go back to his career as a fire fighter.
In addition to his years of service as a fire fighter, Spagnoletti has been involved with several church organizations, mission groups and Habitat for Humanity.
He and his family currently attend Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
“I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for saving me and working through the hands of all the professionals to do so,” he said. “As emergency service providers, I believe we are His hands when rendering care.”
Name: Tony Spagnoletti
Employer: Winston-Salem Fire Department
How many years with: 16
Favorite pastime: Being with family. Wife, Allison Spagnoletti, PA, and daughters Madison and Mallory Spagnoletti.
Favorite sports team: Green Bay Packers. “I’m a huge Cheese Head,” he said. “Now low-fat cheese!”
Lives: State Road
Reach Darcie Dyer at 835-1513 or email@example.com.