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Son saves father’s life with CPR

Pictured above: Lucas and Robert Weme

By Gina Mayfield

On a Minnesota summer day, as the Weme family played in the backyard, 47-year-old Robert Weme stepped outside to join his wife, children and grandchildren. As he sat on the deck, his 20-year-old son, Lucas, noticed something about his dad seemed off.

“I went over and asked him what was going on, and he said he had passed out in the kitchen. At that point, I was getting kind of worried,” Lucas says. “Then he passed out on the deck and started to seize.”

Lucas’ mom and sisters ran over and made sure the grandkids were okay as they called 911. “My dad didn’t have a pulse, so I just started CPR on him. I did about 30 compressions, then he started to come back to,” Lucas says.

Robert answered questions and seemed awake and alert, and just as everyone thought he was out of the woods, everything changed. “Shortly after the first responder got there, my dad ended up going back into seizure fit. We couldn’t find a pulse,” Lucas says. After another round of 30 compressions, then another, Robert regained consciousness then went back out again. “I did more compressions and then they slapped the AED on him and shocked him,” Lucas says. “He was in V-tach.”

V-tach is short for ventricular tachycardia, a heart rhythm disorder caused by abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart causing a very rapid heart rate. It can last for just a few seconds, or much longer, and cause cardiac arrest.

EMTs got an IV established and headed straight for St. Mary’s hospital in Duluth. Lucas and his mom were never far behind and reached the ER shortly after the ambulance. “One of the drivers actually came out and talked to us. She said my dad was pretty stable throughout the whole transport, he was talking, alert and oriented,” Lucas says. “Then they led us back into the ER.”

What the ambulance driver may not have known was that his otherwise healthy, 47-year-old patient biked or lifted weights for about an hour every day, including the day before this incident – and was a paramedic himself. And Lucas was a pre-med student hoping to follow his dad’s footsteps into emergency medicine. He had been a licensed EMT for two years, from the time he was 18, and currently serves with Carlton Fire and Ambulance. That’s where he learned CPR.

When Lucas and his mother got back into the ER, Robert had something he wanted to say to his son. “He said that he loved me and was very proud of what I did. He said he wouldn’t be here without me doing what I did,” Lucas says.

Robert was right. The survival rate for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is around 11 percent.

A few days later after being diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy, Robert left the hospital with a defibrillator and a family with its sense of humor still firmly intact.

“Even though I work on an ambulance too, my dad was actually my first patient to code. I guess he wanted to have the glory of being my first one,” Lucas says with a smile.

Join a Nation of Heartsavers today at cpr.heart.org/heartsaver. #CPRwithHeart

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Zumba student saves the life of her instructor after she suffers a cardiac arrest in class

 

Adela Alvarez and Nan Martin

By Marissa Alanis

Nan Martin hadn’t planned on attending the Zumba class that her friend and instructor, Adela Alvarez, taught at Hope Community Church in Rogers, a small town in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area.

But wintry weather on Jan. 9, 2014 led Martin’s personal trainer to cancel their appointment. Undeterred by the weather, Martin didn’t want to stay at home. She headed to the Zumba class instead, which was the first time she attended Alvarez’s Thursday night class. Martin usually went to her class on Monday nights.

Alvarez, who was 49, taught at least five Zumba classes each week in addition to working as a high school Spanish teacher. Halfway through the class, Alvarez decided to give the students a water break.

“She is leaning against the wall, taking a sip of water and she almost looked right through me and she just said, ‘I don’t feel well,” Martin recalled. “She just collapsed.”

Martin, who had renewed her AHA CPR training a week before, immediately checked Alvarez’s pulse while another student ran to call 911. Martin detected a faint pulse and gave Alvarez two rescue breaths.

Martin checked her pulse again. There was no pulse. The dispatcher, who was on the phone by this time, told Martin to start compressions and remained on the line to guide  her.

“She would say ‘Speed it up’ or  ‘You’re going too slow’,” Martin recalled. “She helped me keep my pace up, which was great.”

As Martin did CPR, she sang the song Stayin’ Alive, which has the right beat for performing chest compressions. When performing CPR, rescuers should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

“It’s so weird, but I wasn’t scared,” she said. “I was amazed at the adrenaline – the whole adrenaline rush. I knew what I had to do and it’s so different when you’re doing CPR on a manikin versus when you’re doing CPR on someone you love.”

Martin performed CPR for about 25 minutes before emergency help arrived at the church, which is located in a rural area. First responders from about three to four nearby communities arrived. The paramedics shocked Alvarez’s heart five times before rushing her to the hospital.

In the first week of hospitalization, Alvarez had kidney failure and liver failure. She started to become weak. Doctors had to use an ECMO machine to help her heart. But  Alvarez experienced complications and lost circulation in her right leg. Doctors had to amputate her leg above the knee.

It was about 45 days after her cardiac arrest that Alvarez started to come out of her coma.

“When they take me out of the medicines for the coma, they were able to do a CAT scan and the doctors came out and literally say to my husband, ‘It’s a miracle. Her brain has zero damage. It was as if nothing happened,” she said.

Alvarez spent about three months in the hospital. She attributes her faith in God, prayers from family and friends and gratitude with helping her survive and recover.

“I know that God was there all the time with me,” she said. “Even though it wasn’t easy because in the recovery, I remember feeling a lot of physical pain. …I was so grateful to be alive. That was my thing – be grateful. I’m alive. I say ‘It’s ok. I don’t have a leg. I can’t live without a heart. It’s okay if I live without a leg.’

Pictured above: Adela leaving the hospital.

Later in 2014, Alvarez received the Zumba Fitness Inspiration Award at the Zumba convention in Orlando. A nurse who was also a Zumba instructor was inspired by Alvarez’s story at the event that she helped lead efforts to teach CPR to Zumba instructors. CPR is now taught to instructors at the annual convention.

Alvarez is now an AHA CPR instructor who teaches BLS and runs a CPR training business. She teaches once a month at the high school where she previously worked as a Spanish teacher.

“I love it,” she said.  “I share my story in every class. After I share my story, it changes the point of view of the people in the class.”

Pictured above: Adela, center,  is now a CPR training instructor.

Martin has followed Alvarez’s footsteps and now is a Zumba instructor. Martin said Alvarez is never far from her thoughts.

“I really miss dancing with her,” she said. “Number one – she is an amazing woman. Even before all of this happened, Adela is just one of those shining lights who walks into the room and you can feel it come off of her. Her classes were amazing.”

Martin said she urges the public to take a CPR training class because it can save the life of someone you know or love.

“I just can’t emphasize enough –  take it,” she said.  “A lot of people say,’ I’ll never need that.  I’ll never use that.’ Never say never because you know never know when a 49-year-old  fit woman is going to drop in front of you.”

This National CPR and AED Awareness Week, learn more about how you could save the life of a loved one or someone you know by learning CPR today.

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Teen saves her best friend’s life with CPR a day after learning the skill in school

Azarria Simmons and Torri’ell Norwood

By Gina Mayfield

Best friends since seventh grade, Torrie Norwood, 16, and Azarria Simmons, 17, had just spent a typical Saturday night out when they decided to head home. As they drove back to their hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, another car plowed into them. After the impact, Torrie opened her eyes and realized the car had been pushed into a tree right smack in the middle of someone’s front yard.

Then the screaming started. “It’s gonna blow!” yelled the gathering crowd as the pickup truck went up in smoke.

Torrie’s door wouldn’t open, but her window had been knocked out during the crash, so she had an obvious escape route.

“Everyone ran down the street because we all thought the car was going to blow up,” Torrie says. “But then I turned around, and I didn’t see Azarria running with us. I had to run back to the car to see if she was still in there — and she was.”

Things didn’t look good.

“She was unresponsive in the back seat,” says Torrie. “I had to drag her out because she wasn’t moving or breathing. There was glass and blood everywhere.”

That’s when the adrenaline rush kicked in.

“I don’t know how I did it, how I opened that door. It was crushed. I just became strong for a second,” she says.

That strength came in handy. In a moment of clarity amidst the chaos, Torrie instructed a bystander to call 911 and got to work.

“My focus was only on one thing. I started CPR,” Torrie says.

After 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths, Azarria began to show signs of life. Just then, the paramedics rolled up ready to rush Azarria to the nearest hospital.

“I just kept asking them if she was going to be okay,” remembers Torrie.

Fortunately for both girls, the Athletic Lifestyle Management Academy at their Lakewood High School offers a Medical Skills class taught by longtime American Heart Association CPR Instructor Erika Miller. She teaches Basic Life Support, along with Heartsaver First Aid and Bloodborne Pathogens After CPR. Torrie had earned her certification just the day before this accident happened.

Erika Miller teaching class

“You never know when an emergency will occur,” Erika says. “In all of my years of teaching, I have never had an experience quite like this one. I never imagined a student would finish the course, take her written and skills tests and in 24 hours have to perform CPR on her best friend.”

All of the Pinellas County Schools use the AHA training tools, including 16 public high schools (three with medical magnet student programs), and offer training for bus drivers, coaches and staff.

“I tell my students that it is one thing to know life-saving skills, but it’s another thing to be comfortable helping in an emergency,” Erika said.  “At the end of the day, I want my students to not only know what to do, but to be willing and able to help, if needed.”

Sounds a lot like Torrie. After the ambulance took off with lights and sirens, Torrie spent hours trying to reconnect with Azarria, who was finally found over FaceTime sporting a fresh set of stitches above her eyebrow.

“If Torrie hadn’t performed CPR, it would have been a different story, because the medics got there too late,” Azarria says. “What Torrie did didn’t surprise me. She would have done that for anyone. That’s just the type of person she is.”

Still sore from the accident, the girls returned to school on Monday. By that point, word of the accident had started to make its way through the halls and Torrie had gone from being the “quiet girl nobody knew” to a hometown hero, a title she’s not quite comfortable with yet. In a display of great humility, Torrie hadn’t told a soul about the accident, not even Erika who eventually heard the news and playfully confronted Torrie.

“I can’t believe you came and sat in my class and didn’t even tell me anything! I’m just so glad you’re okay,” Erika said. “I come to school every day and I wonder if my students are actually listening to what I’m saying. I’m just glad you heard me and used what you learned in the real world.”

That’s an important takeaway. “I feel like CPR training should be a requirement in schools,” Torrie says. “A lot of stuff we learn, we don’t use anymore once we graduate. But CPR is something we can use for the rest of our lives.”

This week is National CPR and AED Awareness Week, spotlighting how lives can be saved if more Americans know CPR and how to use an AED. Learn more about how you could save the life of a loved one by learning CPR today.

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Nurse helps saves her husband’s life after he suffers a cardiac arrest at home

Ric and Ann Goheen

It was a typical Sunday morning for Ann and Ric Goheen on April 5, 2020 at their home in Novato, a city located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ann read a book in bed while her husband, Ric, who has sleep apnea, slept next to her as he wore his CPAP mask.

Ann looked up from her book when she heard air escaping from the edge of Ric’s mask. She poked his side and told him to check his mask. But Ric didn’t respond. She ripped off the mask and saw his lips were blue. Ann, who is a nurse and used to work on a cardiac floor, did a brief pulse check on him and realized he was in cardiac arrest.

“We were just really lucky that I was awake and noticed and of course that I was trained to do CPR,” Ann recalled.

She immediately started CPR. Then, in a whirlwind, Ann stopped to call 911, chased their dogs MicMac and Rio out of the bedroom and unlocked the front door so that paramedics could enter when they arrived.

Ann used all of her strength to move Ric from the bed and lay him on the floor so she could continue to perform CPR.

The paramedics arrived quickly as they happened to be a block away when they were alerted about the incident.

A fireman stayed with Ann while the paramedics shocked Ric six times before there was a return to spontaneous circulation to his heart. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he was intubated.

On the third day of his ICU stay, Ric was extubated. The nurse brought a phone into the room and put Ric on speakerphone so Ann and their three sons could talk to him.

“I love you all,” Ric told his family as they cried on the other end.

Ric spent nine days in the hospital and then was transferred to another hospital where he had an automated implanted cardio defibrillator implanted in his chest. He didn’t suffer any neurological issues.

Two months later, the Novato Fire department held a ceremony to recognize the first responders who treated Ric and to honor him. Ric wore a blue shirt with a green EKG rhythm over the words, “Annnd…I’m back.”  

Ric gave a few remarks at the ceremony where he shared how much his family meant to him and told the paramedics how much he appreciated their lifesaving actions.

“I’ve always told my whole family how much I love them from the very start,” he said as he looked at the first responders. “And what you guys did is that you gave me another chance to tell them again how much I love them and how important to me they are. And you guys are my family also. I love every one of you. I appreciate you all very much.”

A year later, Ric, who previously restored antiques for dealers, continues to do well. He works on his garden every day.

As Ann reflects on her husband’s cardiac arrest, she said she was absolutely not ready for her husband to pass away. Ann, who is a former CPR instructor who received CPR training from AHA, said she wanted to try to do everything she could to ensure that he survived that day. She hopes others will feel compelled to also take action and start CPR if somebody they know or love suffers a cardiac emergency.

“The important thing that I want to pass along is to just try, “ she said. “Even if it’s scary or even if you don’t think you know how to do it, just try because you can make a difference.”

If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest at home, at work or in public. Learn the two easy steps of Hands-Only CPR by watching a short training video.

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Bystander CPR helps save airport employee’s life

By Gina Mayfield

It was one of those mornings. Every parent knows the drill: You’re running behind, then a child decides he’s not on board with the usual morning routine, one thing leads to another and before you know it, you’re three hours late for work.

That was Patty Hill’s experience one hot August morning. Shortly after she finally arrived for her shift at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, she stepped aside to take a phone call from her mother. Minutes into the call, Patty heard a cry for help. Then another. At that point, she quickly said to her mom, “I’m gonna call you right back,” and said to herself, Let me see what’s going on.

What was going on was the manager of the food court, Ms. V, as she’s affectionately known around ATL, was laid flat out on the ground. She had hit her head as she fell on the concourse and was completely unresponsive. At first it appeared as though a young woman was administering aid, but upon closer inspection, Patty realized that wasn’t quite the case.

“I looked at her as she was checking for a pulse … with her thumb,” Patty says. At that point, she knew she had to intervene. “I was like, uh-uh. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘Step back, baby.’ Once I got down there and used my two fingers to find there was no pulse, I started chest compressions immediately.”

Because of airport security requirements, Patty had routinely carried a see-through bag to work, one that clearly displayed her bright orange resuscitation mask pack. A coworker had once jokingly asked her, “Why do you carry that?” Patty responded with her usual quick wit. “You never know, I might have to give you all mouth to mouth one day, and I ain’t putting my mouth on y’all,” she laughed.

As it turned out, the very same coworker who had questioned the contents of Patty’s purse happened to be standing feet away from Patty as she administered chest compressions. “Go get my purse,” she instructed between compressions. “Go get that orange thing out of my purse.”

Being at a busy airport full of passengers, it wasn’t long before a doctor and nurse came running over. The doctor used that orange mask to deliver breaths, while Patty and the nurse took turns delivering chest compressions.

Then the doctor turned to Patty and asked the million-dollar question: Do you know where to find the AED machine? As it turned out, Patty had been standing right next to it during that phone call with her mother.

Eventually Patty’s manager came looking for her. “I didn’t know you were gone saving a life!” she said to Patty. In fact, that’s exactly what she was doing — the paramedics showed up about 20 minutes later.

Soon after, Patty had a chance to catch up with Ms. V at the hospital where she was being treated for cardiac arrest. “I met her kids, I met her family, I prayed over her. She is good,” Patty says.

Then she reflected on her own experience. She had received her CPR certification while training to be a medical assistant, but worked nights at the airport while completing an unpaid internship. “When I graduated as a medical assistant, I was always asking myself what I was doing at the airport. It was for a reason. God had me there for that particular day, August 1, 2018. I will never forget that,” she says.

Today, Patty is an instructor who teaches American Heart Association curriculum to her community. “I never thought that I would be saving somebody at the airport. I never thought I would take those skills that I learned to help save someone,“ she says. “It’s good to know CPR. Even kids. I encourage kids to learn as well. I think everybody needs to learn.”

In the end, on that particular hot August morning, it turns out Patty wasn’t late at all. She was exactly where she was supposed to be, exactly when she was supposed to be there. “Now that I look at it, it was right place, right time,” Patty says. “Everything was right on time.”

Join a Nation of Heartsavers today at cpr.heart.org/heartsaver. #CPRwithHeart

 

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Workplace CPR training helps hotel employee save a guest’s life

By Gina Mayfield

On a crisp day in early autumn, the Hampton Inn in Greenville, North Carolina, was quiet during the afternoon lull between check-in and check-out periods. Sandi Parker manned the front desk while using the downtime to untangle a problem with tech support over the phone. That’s when it happened.

“I had a guest come running down the hall just yelling. I didn’t know what was going on. She got to the desk and said, ‘There’s a man unresponsive on the fifth floor in the hallway,’” Sandi remembers. She immediately ended her call with tech support and placed a different kind of call for help, this time to 911. Then she ran to the backroom to grab the emergency kit. “It was scary because I didn’t know what situation I was going to walk into,” she says.

Sandi bolted up the five flights of stairs to find a couple of hotel guests frantically trying to render aid. “It just looked bad. The man was completely unresponsive. His body was gray. I thought he was dead. I really did,” Sandi remembers. She immediately began CPR while praying for the man’s life between counts.

Sandi had remained on the phone with the 911 dispatcher who counted out chest compressions, making sure Sandi kept pace. “After 20 minutes, you start getting tired. You just don’t realize it. You start slowly slowing down. But the dispatcher was like, ‘Nope, nope, you’ve got to speed back up. One, two, three … .’ She was great helping me through that,” Sandi says. “Once you get started, you’re locked in. The adrenaline kicks in and you just get in the zone.”

In time, fire and rescue, the local fire department and finally the EMTs converged on the scene. The man eventually regained consciousness before being transported to the hospital.

Sandi returned to the front desk to find a large contingent of the hotel’s management company ready to support her. In a true display of Southern hospitality, they reached out to the medical center to ensure the man had survived and had been cared for by family. That was the last they heard about him. “I have wondered how he is,” Sandi says.

What she doesn’t have to wonder about is the role she played in those crucial first few minutes before professional help arrived. The hotel provides certain personnel, including those working the front desk like Sandi, with CPR training. On a regular basis, they clear out a meeting space, bring in an instructor and get certified. “To be honest, I’ve had CPR training for years,” Sandi says, “but I never thought I’d have to use it.”

Join a Nation of Heartsavers today at cpr.heart.org/heartsaver. #CPRwithHeart

 

 

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AHA releases 2020 AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published its 2020 AHA Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) in the organization’s flagship journal, Circulation. Among the major changes are the addition of a sixth link focused on recovery in the AHA’s Chain of Survival, a widely-adopted series of critical actions that work to maximize the chance of someone surviving cardiac arrest.

The latest research shows that the recovery phase following cardiac arrest continues long after hospitalization. The physical, social, and emotional aspects of recovery among patients and their caregivers are emphasized after survivors leave the hospital.

The guidelines contain updated or new algorithms and graphics to reflect the latest resuscitation science, including:

  • a new Recovery link in the Chain of Survival was created for in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in infants, children, adolescents, and adults;
  • a new algorithm and updated recommendations on resuscitation during pregnancy focuses on the best outcomes for both the mother and baby. Team planning for cardiac arrest in pregnancy should be done in collaboration with the obstetric, neonatal, emergency, anesthesiology, intensive care, and cardiac arrest services;
  • addressing the increase in respiratory and cardiac arrests due to opioid overdoses, two new opioid-associated emergency algorithms are included for lay rescuers and for trained responders; and
  • new data on respiratory rates during CPR in children are now available, and the recommendations for pediatric CPR is one breath every 2 – 3 seconds (20 – 30 breaths per minute).

The AHA Chain of Survival now includes a sixth link focused on recovery.

Guidance calls for increasing bystander CPR

The 2020 guidelines offer suggestions for increasing lay rescuer CPR rates, noting that currently less than 40% of non-hospitalized adults who experience cardiac arrest receive layperson-initiated CPR before the arrival of emergency medical services. Among the new or updated suggestions are the following:

  • raise awareness of the need for laypersons to initiate CPR for presumed cardiac arrest, underscoring that the risk of harm to the patient is low;
  • emergency dispatch systems are encouraged to use cell phone technology to recruit laypersons to assist with CPR rescues, especially in under-resourced areas in an effort to increase the rate of bystander CPR and automated external defibrillator use; and
  • bystander CPR training should target specific socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic populations who have historically exhibited lower rates of bystander CPR. CPR training should address gender-related barriers to improve bystander CPR rates for women.

 

Bringing science to life

For the first time ever, the latest resuscitation science is reflected in new high-quality CPR programs that released simultaneously in the form of a new digital resuscitation portfolio — a milestone achievement and breakthrough for the AHA.

The programs are rooted in a true adaptive learning design that delivers personalized instruction tailored to individual needs and knowledge and confidence levels.

The simultaneous release upholds an AHA Guiding Value – Bringing Science to Life.

The AHA also released Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course materials for instructor-led training.

Guidelines’ approach and history

The approach for the 2020 Guidelines reflects alignment with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) and associated member councils and includes varying levels of evidence reviews specific to the scientific questions considered of greatest clinical significance and new evidence.

Since the first AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC were published in 1966, the guidelines have been reviewed, updated, and published periodically by the AHA.

In 2015, the process of five-year updates was transitioned to an online format that uses a continuous evidence evaluation process rather than periodic reviews. This allowed for significant changes in science to be reviewed in an expedited manner and then incorporated directly into the guidelines if deemed appropriate.

The AHA has been a leader in resuscitation science and innovation for over 50 years, training millions of people each year in CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care around the world through its programs and awareness campaigns.

 Visit the ECC Digital Digest to view infographics that cover key guidelines changes and listen to podcasts from resuscitation experts who were involved in creating the guidelines.

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Dad’s quick thinking and CPR save his son after near-drowning experience

Pictured left to right: Max, Adam and Eleanor

By Gina Mayfield

In May 2019, just as San Antonio, Texas, started to heat up for the summer, Adam Biechlin decided to take his two kids for a swim while his girlfriend, Jennifer, finished making dinner. As he was heading out the door, he had a fleeting thought that barely registered in his mind: It’s always better not to be outnumbered by kids at the pool. And off they went.

That day, wind ripped around the 21-floor condominium tower where Jennifer lives, but Adam made it to the ground floor pool where he watched his 5-year-old daughter, Eleanor, do handstands in the water and played catch with his 3-year-old son, Max.

Eventually, Jennifer texted to say dinner was ready, and Adam called for both kids and watched them come running out of the water. He began collecting their belongings, which the wind had strewn across a small area, when Eleanor asked for just one more “Watch this, Dad!” moment.

Adam, who had turned his back for a few seconds knowing both kids had cleared the pool, turned back around. Then it hit him.

“I didn’t see Max,” he remembers. “I said, ‘Where’s your brother?’ Eleanor turned completely pale. My heart just sank. And then it started racing.”

Adam ran toward the pool and found Max floating face first in just 4 feet of water.

“It was an indescribable feeling,” Adam says.

He just remembers thinking, ”This is not happening. This can’t happen. This is not going to happen.”

Adam pulled Max from the pool. “He was like a sack of potatoes. His face was white, his eyes were closed, his lips were blue,” Adam says. “I just started screaming at the top of my lungs for someone to call 911.” But there wasn’t anybody around. “I had to do something,” he says.

Adam laid Max on the ground and began performing CPR. Turns out Adam’s cousin is married to longtime American Heart Association employee, Kelly Griesenbeck Carter, who had offered Adam and other relatives an Infant CPR class right before Eleanor was born. Everything he learned that day came rushing back to him.

After several attempts to revive Max, nothing seemed to help. So, Adam scooped him up and ran through a gate into a patio area where they found an elderly doctor they knew.

Once again Adam laid Max on the ground and began chest compressions, while the doctor stood watch.

“Keep going Dad, you’re doing alright,” the doctor said.

Then it happened. Max projectile vomited the Slurpee he had enjoyed earlier that day all over Adam.

“It was the most wonderful feeling,” Adam says with a smile of that first sign of recovery. Then, Max took a breath and started crying.

About that time, the paramedics arrived. (Residents as high as eight stories up had heard Adam’s frantic cries for help and called 911.) They checked Max’s vitals and rushed him off to the local children’s hospital.

It was there that Adam learned what had happened during the 10 seconds his back was turned. “I got blown in,” Max still explains to this day. Yes, that heavy wind had literally blown him right into the water as he was running.

Today, he’s a perfectly happy and healthy 5-year-old – and a strong swimmer. But about a month after the incident Adam learned how truly fortunate he was that he took that Infant CPR class all those years ago.

Pictured: Max

He ran into the doctor who had stood over him while he performed CPR at the pool that day. The doctor pulled Adam aside and said, “I just want to tell you, Dad, you did a great job because that boy was dead.”

In the year that has followed that fateful day, Adam has become an evangelist for CPR in his Alamo Heights community, warning other parents not to be lulled into a false sense of security at even a crowded community pool, often staffed by teenage lifeguards who are just kids themselves.

“Pay attention and stay hypervigilant near the water,” he says. “This happened in 10 seconds. Ten seconds. Things change in the blink of an eye.”

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Nurse uses CPR to save passenger’s life on cruise

Pictured above: Mark and Diane Jones

By Gina Mayfield

Their week-long cruise had returned to port the night before, and with the ship safely docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mark and Diane Jones had slept in knowing that their disembarkation time was still hours away.

But just as the Joneses started to rouse, they heard a loud thump next door.

“Next thing I know, I hear a lady screaming at the top of her lungs in the hallway,” Diane recalls. “She was really, really screaming.”

Still in her nightgown, Diane ran out the door and found a small crowd gathered outside Andy and Michelle Katon’s room.

Inside, Andy had collapsed against the bathroom door. Mark, who had closely followed Diane, had to pull Andy away from the door and flip him over. That’s when Diane realized he was “extremely diaphoretic and cyanotic.” Those are the words an RN who spent a good part of her 38-year career in critical care uses to describe someone who is sweating profusely and turning blue.

“Get me an AED unit, call 911, get me some help here,” Diane said to the crowd while supporting Andy’s airway and constantly checking his pulse … until there wasn’t one.

She started Hands-Only CPR and waited for an AED unit. When it finally arrived, they shocked Andy once and his pulse returned to normal. He eventually started breathing on his own, and they transported him to a local hospital.

Then it was time for Diane and Mark to go downstairs – and have breakfast. When they met their friends, the conversation started with, “You guys aren’t going to believe what happened … .” What a morning it had been.

Turns out, Andy had a widow maker heart attack, which is almost always fatal without emergency care. “You’re only alive because of your next door neighbor’s actions,” the cardiologist told Andy.

Turns out this was the second time Diane used CPR to save a life outside of the hospital, the first time being at a college football game.

“I tell people, I don’t leave home without her,” Mark says with a laugh.

Since the rescue, the Joneses and Katons, who had never met before this incident, have gotten to know each other and planned on being together to mark the one-year anniversary of Andy’s survival in March 2020, then COVID-19 got in the way. Still, their bond is strong.

“It’s like we have a new family,” Mark says. “They’re very, very good people.”

“They call me their hero,” Diane says. “They always say they know Andy survived because of what I did. It was real rewarding to know that I saved his life. He was only 49 years old and had three children at home. They’ve all reached out to me to say, ‘Thank you for saving my dad.’ ”

Visit our Hands-Only CPR webpage to learn the two easy steps to save a life and check out Heartsaver® First Aid CPR AED for additional eLearning opportunities.

 

 

 

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Youth baseball coach saves assistant coach’s life using CPR

Left to right: David Dibble and Zach Sievers

By Gina Mayfield

In Spring 2017, youth baseball coach Zach Sievers got a call from former player David Dibble looking to land a spot on a local team. After having a hard time finding a place for the 19-year-old college freshman, Zach did the next best thing and offered him an assistant coaching position on his own 16 and under Wisconsin Wave team in Kenosha.

June rolled around, and David was in the bullpen going through the usual drills with the team.

“Then it happened,” Zach remembers. “David threw a pitch, the catcher threw it back to him. David looked at me, grabbed his chest and fell to his knees.”

Then came the face plant, which was so slow and controlled that Zach wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“I thought he might be playing a prank on somebody.” But David didn’t budge, even after Zach called out to him.

Zach ran over and realized this was no joke.

“David’s eyes were glazed over, his face was gray, his lips were purple,” Zach recalls. He directed another coach to call 911 and sprung into action.

“I checked David’s airways and didn’t feel any breath. I couldn’t see his chest rising. I checked for a pulse and couldn’t find one, so I started CPR.”

No one else at the ballpark that day knew CPR. Thankfully, Zach had been an electronics technician in the Navy, where he went through regular CPR and AED  training.

While to Zach it felt like 15 seconds had passed between the time he started CPR and the time a fire truck arrived, it had actually been nine to 12 minutes.

“Where we were wasn’t the easiest place to get to, and we were between fire zones,” he says. One fireman took over CPR, while the other ran to get the portable AED.

“When I heard the AED announce it couldn’t detect a pulse, I knew for a fact at that point that David was in some trouble. At that point it became real.”

When Zach got to the hospital, paramedics told him they had to stop the ambulance twice to restart David’s heart. He still wasn’t stable.

“I was really just hoping he was going to make it,” Zach says.

Eventually the doctor came out and pulled him aside.

“He told me that if I hadn’t done what I did, David would have died. He wasn’t out of the woods yet, but his chances of living were much better. That was hard to hear. It could have gone either way.”

Flight for Life flew David to a major hospital in Milwaukee where it was discovered that he had atrial fibrillation (AFib).

“So, essentially his heart was just beating out of control, so much so that he didn’t have a pulse,” Zach says. “It was beating at such an interval that it was more like a flutter than a beat.”

David had a defibrillator inserted and spent a week in the hospital. While he was still there his Aunt Connie had an epiphany. She realized that what happened to David could happen to anyone. She went on to start the Dibbs17 CPR Challenge (a name created by combining David’s nickname and number) with the goal of training 1,700 people on CPR within one year.

Connie partnered with the American Heart Association and used its tools to train every last one of them, and that was just the beginning of the organization. They’ve also hosted AED Challenges, where participants take pictures of the AED in whatever building they’re in, just to see if they can find it.

“Connie has done more for David than I ever did,” Zach says humbly.

These days, Dibbs17 is still going strong, and so is David. He got cleared to play baseball again and is back on the field at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. But the Dibble family never forgot what Zach did for them.

“They call me their angel,” he says. “But it’s hard for me to hear ‘thank you’ because I just did what I was supposed to do.”

To hear more about Dibbs17 and David’s story, watch this video on YouTube.