A single moment can change a life. Cassandra Price hopes the moment that changed hers will save others.
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Price, with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Installation Directorate Real Property Management office, was at work on July 1, 2013, when she experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. She received a phone call that her 21-year-old son Joshua was having a serious medical emergency.
“One of his friends called me and said (Joshua) wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. I honestly thought he had had an aneurysm. I never thought of a heart condition,” she recalled.
Price would later find out her son, a very healthy, athletic young man in the prime of his life, had experienced a sudden cardiac arrest. Unlike a heart attack, an SCA is an electrical problem in the heart leading to irregular heart rhythms that prevent the heart from pumping blood. The heart ceases and death occurs for 90 percent of victims, often within minutes.
Joshua was starting his shift as a lifeguard supervisor at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas, that morning. He collapsed while talking with one of his lead lifeguards. Thanks to the quick response by Joshua’s colleagues and the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, he survived.
Almost losing a son to SCA, a leading cause of death in the United States, turned Price into an advocate for heart screenings, first aid training and access to AEDs. She has been sharing their story because she knows the information can save lives.
“Be aware of sudden cardiac arrest. If you don’t know how to do CPR, learn it. Know where the AEDs are at your workplace and learn how to use them,” she said.
Price said Joshua had experienced some of the symptoms, including faintness and shortness of breath after exertion, but her family always attributed them to something else. Had they gone to the doctor and sought testing, however, a doctor told them Joshua would have been put on a betablocker and probably would never have experienced a sudden cardiac arrest.
Even though they didn’t recognize the symptoms in time, Price hopes spreading the word and teaching others what to look for will make a difference for others.
“I just try to make sure people, especially with their kids, are aware of the symptoms. If you (notice symptoms), don’t dismiss them,” she said.