A Message for Others from Bruce Richardson
“You never know when you have heart disease. One of the first symptoms of heart disease is death. So, I challenge everyone to make sure that your physical heart is in good shape – live healthy and see your doctor – and also make sure that your ‘personal heart’ is in good shape. There are no do-overs, so always make sure your heart is in the right place.”
“I was dead for 67 minutes. It’s a miracle that I’m here today.” Those are the words of Bruce Richardson, who survived a cardiac arrest in July 2016 thanks to the quick actions of his friends and the first responders who refused to give up.
It was an early summer morning, a typical Saturday. Bruce woke as usual for his men’s prayer group at his community church.
“I had no symptoms whatsoever that there was any problem or that I was about to experience a life-changing event. It was a completely normal morning; I felt fine,” he shared. “I was visiting with friends before class began. Then, I passed out. What happened next I know from what others have told me.”
Bruce’s friend, Jack, had learned how to perform CPR in the U.S. military, and he quickly began chest compressions. Another friend, Doug, dialed 9-1-1 and the operator walked him through compressions until first responders arrived. The quick actions of Jack, Doug, and the 9-1-1 operator unquestionably saved Bruce’s life.
Once the ambulance arrived, the paramedics tried five times to restart Bruce’s heart with an AED. By this time, Bruce had been without a heartbeat for more than 30 minutes, often when time of death is called. On the phone with an emergency room doctor, one of the paramedics was instructed to try two AEDs simultaneously—a practice supported by emerging research. It worked; Bruce’s heart began to beat again, though he would suffer a second arrest on the way to the hospital where he would undergo emergency surgery.
Incredibly, he awoke the next day and was able to communicate. Despite early fears that he would suffer brain damage, Bruce made a full recovery and left the hospital after a week.
Spreading the Word
Since Bruce’s cardiac arrest, he has since been able to resume a normal life… with some differences. He now is a passionate CPR advocate. His church – where he suffered the arrest – has purchased two AEDs and trained staff and congregants in how to use them. Bruce has shared his story in the news, and last year he was a guest speaker at the Association’s Indianapolis Heart & Stroke Ball to encourage people to spread the message of CPR.
Finally, Bruce shared his story in a video now being used to promote American Heart Association Hands-Only CPR kiosks installed around the country.