Ken Jester and his wife, Helena, normally do their wall-climbing at a gym in Columbia.
But Aug. 3, the Elkridge residents drove their son, Paul, to the Earth Treks Climbing Center, in Timonium, so he could take a bouldering class.
While Paul was in class, the Jesters decided to do some climbing as well.
“I got about 10 feet up, got a little dizzy and was about to say ‘take’ so my wife would take my weight,” Jester said.
He never had the chance.
He went unconscious and hung limp from his climbing harness.
Climbing at the center when Jester becamet unconscious were Andrea Vella-Camilleri, of Hampden, and Lynn Addie, of Lancaster, Pa., both nurses. Once they realized Jester was in trouble, they helped his wife get him to the ground.
Addie checked his pulse and heard him gasp for air. She began administering rescue breathing while Vella-Camilleri performed chest compressions.
“He wasn’t moving at all,” recalled Kjeld Lauritzen, an Owings Mills resident and graduate student at Towson University, who was also climbing at the time.
Lauritzen yelled for someone to call 911 and retrieved the automated external defibrillator from behind the counter.
Through CPR training, he knew how to use the defibrillator and followed the audio prompts.
“You put the patches on and it analyzes,” he said.
The defibrillator decided that Jester needed a shock, and warned the others to stay clear.
Jester’s heart resumed a regular beat after the first shock and he returned to consciousness around the time paramedics arrived.
Capt. Steve Adelsberger, Baltimore County Fire Department’s public access defibrillator coordinator, said the climbers were correct in not waiting for the paramedics.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for Vella-Camilleri, Addie and Lauritzen, the odds would have been against Jester’s survival.