Roy Russell

Roy Russell with his daughter Kelly McKinney.

Kelly McKinney has always believed in miracles, but even more since her father experienced one first-hand last week.

In early December, Kelly’s dad, Roy Russell, a long-time member of the Fairview Police Department, survived a life-threatening experience thanks to local paramedics.

In November, Russell went into St. Thomas Hospital for a standard heart valve replacement. However, the procedure did not go as planned. Before they could begin, Russell’s heart stopped beating and the surgeon worked on his heart all day to keep him alive.

For a few days, Russell remained in critical condition. After 11 days in the intensive care unit, he graduated to a regular room and was released from the hospital two days later to return home and recuperate.

Daughter Kelly said, “He has worked really hard to get better.”

However, on Saturday, December 5 around 5 p.m., Russell was at home when he passed out.

“My mom Faye Russell called 911 and the Fairview paramedics arrived within minutes,” shared Kelly.

When they laid Russell on his back and began evaluating his condition, they discovered his heart had stopped. Kelly said the EMT immediately began chest compressions to keep his heart pumping.

“Dad would come back, and of course, this was all very painful after his recent open-heart surgery,” said Kelly.

Russell was transported by ambulance back to St. Thomas Hospital for more medical treatment and was eventually stabilized.

Kelly recalled, “Every doctor and nurse kept asking who worked on him. They just keep praising the work Fairview paramedics did. They kept saying ‘We’ve never seen anything like this. This is a miracle and that is the best trained staff we’ve ever seen!’”

She noted that the St. Thomas staff had experienced a very difficult week with the loss of an ICU nurse to COVID and another nurse shot and killed on 440 in Nashville.

Kelly shared, “One nurse named Maggie cried and said ‘You are the miracle we needed right now.”

Russell has worked as a Fairview park ranger for about 14 years and stepped in as an officer about seven years ago. That brotherhood of officers were also impacted by Russell’s near-death experience.  Kelly said, “It was hard to watch the officers hurt for Dad. They were all concerned and wanting to help.”

Kelly is just glad Fairview’s emergency response personnel were knowledgeable, skilled, trained and able to help – and performed a miracle to save her dad’s life.

“It’s so comforting to know what amazing staff we have here if anything happens to our loved ones!”

It’s not quite a Christmas miracle, but for Roy and the rest of his family – it’s a wonderful miracle that has given them the best Christmas present ever.

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