The doors were locked, the windows were up and the car was running. Inside was State Trooper Jimmie Durnil – unconscious and in trouble. That’s how Todd Durnil discovered his father.
Todd sensed something was awry when his dad called just minutes earlier. “I don’t feel very good,” Jimmie had told his son. “I need you to meet me at the hospital.”
“I’m coming to you,” Todd replied.
Seeing his dad in the car, Todd grabbed what he had on hand – his service shotgun – and started breaking windows. “I hit the window a third time. That’s when it broke.”
“That’s when I woke up,” says Jimmie. “I remember coming to and seeing broken glass all over.”
Jimmie, with Todd at his side, was transported by ambulance to IU Health Bloomington Hospital. When they arrived at the emergency department, a heart attack team was ready. Jimmie was semi-conscious upon arrival, then dramatically “coded.” His heart stopped. For the next 17 minutes, Jimmie received six shocks from a defibrillator as the emergency heart team fought to revive him with adrenaline and chest compressions.
Todd was at his father’s side during the Code Blue, even helping protect his head as he went in and out of consciousness. “I watched it happen to him. The bad part, the painful part.” says Todd. “At one point, I saw my brother, Curt through a window, and I shook my head ‘no,’” as their dad failed to respond to lifesaving efforts.
Jimmie recalls bits and pieces of the massive effort. “I remember someone hitting my chest and I was yelling ‘Stop! You’re hurting me!’ Then I was out again. When I would come to, I can remember seeing Lindsey Hill’s face – she was the one hurting me!” says Jimmie with a smile. “She was actually saving my life and we’re still in touch to this day.”
“Jimmie had what we call a ‘widow-maker’ heart attack,” says Hill, a registered nurse at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. “But there was something that told me not to quit on Jimmie … I kept going.” Jimmie finally stabilized.
“I remember waking up to people cheering and then I was whisked off to the catheterization lab with Lindsey still at my side,” says Jimmie.
“I remember Dr. Zawacki telling me that he’d take care of me,” says Jimmie. He received two medicated stents. “I still see Dr. Zawacki today. He’s excellent and we’re both Navy Veterans.”
These medical procedures are not foreign to Jimmie. In 2013, with 41 years of service in the State Police, Jimmie had his firstheart attack and stent placed. “After that heart attack, I lost 40 pounds thanks to Exercise Specialist Amber McKenzie and the IU Health Cardiac Rehabilitation team. I was watching my sugar levels, exercising routinely and even had a mostly vegetarian diet,” says Jimmie. “There was the occasional Stromboli treat from Baldy’s, but I was healthy.”
He tried to retire after that attack, but failed. The Indiana State Police was launching a new regional dispatch center and wanted the veteran law man to take the lead. “I’m not too good at retirement,” says Jimmie with a grin. “You learn to live with stress.”
The second attack in 2015 gave him pause, once again, to consider retirement. He decided against it.
“My friends say I’m the only one they know who has flunked retirement twice.” Jimmie was offered “a dream job” as Marshal and Chief of Police for Ellettsville. “That decision required a family conference on Curt’s front porch,” says Jimmie, his family laughing.
“Jimmie’s a ‘type-A-PLUS’ personality,” says Doretta, Jimmie’s wife of 49 years. “There’s a reason he’s not gone yet – God’s not done with him.”
His son, Curt, concurs: “He’s here to serve.”
Featured IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians provider seeing patients for Cardiology:
Kevin Zawacki, MD, FACC