This blog was written by Gregory Schreppel, a survivor of cardiac arrest thanks to immediate bystander CPR.
A Home Depot store in Olathe, Kansas was the scene where I crossed paths with kind strangers, Hands-Only CPR and emergency personnel in December 2015. I was in the market for underground electrical conduit for the home my family was building and stopped by our local store on a Saturday morning. While consulting with a store employee, the employee noticed I didn’t look well and urged me to take a seat. Shortly thereafter, a woman who happened to be an off-duty nurse passed down the aisle and noticed some unusual activity. Thinking I was having a seizure, she helped me to the floor. She soon determined I was indeed in cardiac arrest and began chest compressions while the Home Depot store manager called 9-1-1.
When the Olathe Fire Department and MED-ACT personnel arrived, they assumed responsibility for my care and found me in ventricular fibrillation; immediately, they used an AED to deliver a shock. Over the span of 19 minutes, a total of six shocks were delivered. At the same time, an Olathe police officer was able to reach my wife Heather to inform her of the situation, and to which hospital they would be transporting me.
As the ambulance approached the nearby hospital, I lost my pulse again and emergency personnel resumed chest compressions. I survived the cardiac arrest, and the next day, underwent surgery for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). I continue to have what Heather describes as “episodes,” which require shocks from the ICD. It causes a few anxious moments for me, but I’ve gotten to the point where I can anticipate a shock delivery.
I’m doing well today. This experience heightened my awareness of the critical role bystander Hands-Only CPR plays in saving lives. The two steps of this lifesaving skill, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest, were performed without hesitation by the off-duty nurse and Home Depot store manager. If they hadn’t intervened, emergency personnel would have arrived at a drastically different scene. I’m grateful to the men and women who came to my aid that Saturday morning and that my life was in their experienced and capable hands.
I recommend that everyone learn more about Hands-Only CPR and find an AHA training course on CPR and AEDs. Cardiac arrest can happen any place, any time, so take steps to ensure you’re prepared to potentially help save a life.