Wife Saves Husband during Snow Shovelling

Posted by cocreator on June 09, 2014
Events / No Comments

My husband, Bob, used to refer to the automated external defibrillator (AED) that I bought for our house as “the $1,500 shelf ornament.”

View First Aid Corps World Map of Lives Saved with AEDs in a larger map

He thought it was a complete waste of money. But I wanted it because we live so far from emergency medical care.

In December 2011, that shelf ornament saved my husband’s life.

Bob and I were outside our three-unit motel. We live in tiny Coalmont, BC, population 85, where we’re the proud owners of the Mozey-On-Inn. That day we were shovelling the driveway to get ready for guests.

Bob Sterne the Survivor

Bob Sterne the Survivor

Bob, then 63, shovelled near the bottom of the driveway, and I was clearing the heavy snow near the door. I turned and noticed that Bob had fallen. I assumed it was because his replacement knee gave out. I even joked with him to get back up. But he didn’t respond.

I ran down the driveway, turned him over and saw that his eyes were rolled back in his head. I hurried inside to call 911. Meanwhile our neighbours rushed over and began performing CPR on Bob.

When I heard someone shout, “There’s no pulse! He’s not breathing!” I shoved the phone in my pocket, grabbed the defibrillator and ran to Bob’s side. I put the phone on the ground so the operator could hear us.

As we placed the electrode pads on Bob’s chest, the AED began analyzing his condition and giving audio instructions.

It said to stand back and administer the first shock, so I pushed the button. After a second shock, Bob suddenly took a gulp of breath and opened his eyes. But we weren’t out of the woods yet. Bob’s breathing was raspy and even though his eyes were open, he wasn’t responding. I got blankets and we tried to keep him warm while we waited.

The ambulance was on its way but had to travel more than 20 kilometres over icy roads. Finally, 45 minutes later, the paramedics loaded Bob into the ambulance. I followed with a neighbour to the hospital in Princeton, the nearest town.

After a stop at the regional hospital, Bob was sent for in-depth testing at Vancouver General Hospital, where he would stay for a week. The tests showed that Bob’s heart was actually in great shape, with next to no clogs in his arteries. But doctors eventually found the problem: His heart wasn’t sending the right electrical signals to keep a steady beat.

Bob had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) installed. It’s a small, battery-powered device that sends an electrical impulse to his heart if it starts to beat an abnormal rhythm. It was a surprisingly minor operation. Bob was released the day after his surgery.

More than two years later, Bob is doing well. He lost 15 pounds, and his ICD has never had to do anything (but it is a nice insurance policy).

To make sure it’s working well, Bob uses a special device to send regular readings from his ICD to the regional hospital’s heart clinic. They still want to see Bob once a year in person, but having this great device means we don’t have to drive to Penticton in the winter months.

Bob has the OK to shovel snow again, in moderation. And he no longer makes jokes about our AED. Now he’ll tell anyone who will listen that all small communities should have an AED at a central location and everyone should know where it is.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tags: , , , , ,

Family Save Man at Home

Posted by cocreator on February 22, 2014
Events / No Comments

While on a business trip in January, Brigette Bell was eating dinner out when she saw a woman crumple to the floor in the dining room. A table conversation about CPR ensued.

Brigette Bell & Harry the Saviours with Eric Bell the Survivor

Brigette Bell & Harry the Saviours with Eric Bell the Survivor

“I remember someone saying, ‘No mouth-to-mouth. You just get on their chest and you don’t stop compressions,’” Brigette said.

She didn’t know how important that advice would be just one week later, when she and her teenage son would save her husband’s life with Hands-Only CPR.

Eric Bell, 50, a commercial realtor and father of four, is in good physical shape with normal blood pressure. Though his cholesterol level tends to run high, he has no family history of heart disease and swims regularly.

However, on January 13, 2014, a heart attack left him unconscious in the foyer of his Elmhurst home. He swam earlier that day, and felt some tightness in his chest and slight weakness in his arms that night.

“I just thought I was out of shape,” Eric said.

Just before 10 p.m. that night, Eric said he started to feel “different.” He told Brigette he wanted to go to the hospital. The last thing Eric remembers from that day is walking down the stairs.

Eric had a blockage in one of the arteries in his heart, said Anand Ramanathan, MD, a cardiologist at Edward Heart Hospital and Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group. Dr. Ramanathan was on call the night Eric was rushed to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.

At some point during the day of the heart attack, the tissue in his artery ruptured. Eric’s blood formed a clot around some plaque that broke loose, and the clot likely blocked Eric’s artery, Dr. Ramanathan said. His heart stopped. Immediately after Eric fell, Brigette and the couple’s son, Harry, rolled Eric onto his back. Harry, who had learned CPR in school, began chest compressions.

“I was a little freaked out to see him face-first on the ground,” said Harry, 17, a high school junior. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure what to do. Then everything kicked in.”

Brigette dialed 911. “It’s very hard to keep your composure to dial three digits,” she said.

Harry continued compressions for about five minutes, then indicated he was losing strength. Brigette took over and Harry grabbed the phone. The 911 dispatcher counted out the compressions.

“I thought we were failing miserably,” Brigette said. She watched her husband turn blue. “I was starting to panic,” she said. “As a mother and a wife, I looked up at my kids and I thought, ‘They cannot lose their father.’ I thought, ‘I don’t want to leave anything on the table. I’m going to pump until I have nothing left.’”

But Brigette and Harry were not failing. The compressions they administered kept Eric’s blood moving, delivering life-saving oxygen to his brain. Within minutes, an emergency crew arrived and started Eric’s heart with a defibrillator. They rushed him to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, where Dr. Ramanathan performed emergency surgery to insert a stent.

Without the Hands-Only CPR he received, Eric would likely have died, according to Dr. Ramanathan.

“The CPR kept him alive until help got there,” Dr. Ramanathan said. “The hospital intervention was after the fact, frankly. The main reason he’s alive today is because of the CPR he received at home.”

Eric recovered from the incident with no brain or heart muscle damage, Dr. Ramanathan added.

“He’s made a full recovery,” said Lawrence Barr, MD, a cardiologist at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital who has followed up on Eric’s care. “His heart muscle looks normal. I think the moral of the story is: people need to learn CPR. Just plain old CPR.”

Eric’s heart attack has motivated Brigette and Eric to adopt a healthier lifestyle as a family, moving toward a more plant-based diet and keeping their cholesterol in check.

“We all think we’re invincible,” Eric said, who added that diet and exercise alone weren’t enough to prevent his heart attack. If you need medication to keep your heart stats in check, take it, he said. “I think you’ve got to do everything.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tags: , , , , ,

Wife Saves Husband at Home

Posted by cocreator on February 20, 2014
Events / No Comments

Rita Houston awoke that December night to a sound she would later learn is called a “death rattle.”

Don Houston the Survivor

Don Houston the Survivor

It’s the gurgling sound her husband, Don Houston, was making as he lie in bed next to her. Hours before, he had been awake, eating grapes and reading a Louis L’Amour western novel as Rita Houston fell asleep.

But when she called 911, Rita Houston told the dispatcher her husband wouldn’t wake up. The dispatcher told her to pull her husband off the bed and get him to the floor to begin CPR.

The 5-foot-2-inch woman cried out to God countless times, pleading for the physical strength to move her husband, who was about 70 pounds heavier than her, off the bed.

As the dispatcher explained how Rita Houston needed to push on Don’s chest, she uttered, “I think he died, sir.”

Moments later, a team of emergency medical professionals were in Don and Rita Houston’s home, helping to save Don’s life.

In 2012, Don Houston was one of 33 people in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas who survived after suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, when a person’s heart stops unexpectedly, and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, medical director of the emergency medical system in the Tulsa and OKC metro area, said the EMS system for the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas recently learned from an analysis of its own statistics that it had a survival rate of 45 percent in 2012 for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting and have a bystander who provided CPR until emergency professionals arrive at the scene.

The region had one of the highest survival rates in the nation in 2012, he said. Among the 33 people who survived, 31 of them survived without major brain damage.

“It’s all the more rewarding when you realize that this is a system that, for a little over a decade, has earned a reputation for performing very, very well in some of the most serious medical conditions that can occur outside the hospital setting,” Goodloe said. “The real challenge for EMS systems that begin to achieving excellent clinical results is not just staying at that performance level but further advancing that performance level.”

One of the reasons that rate is so high, medical officials say, is because of how much the emergency medical system leaders have focused on ensuring that paramedics, EMTs and firefighters consistently are trained on the fundamentals of CPR.

Also, when they arrive at a scene, they’ve been trained to work largely as a team, cutting down on the chaos that can ensue when medical help arrives.

When EMT Carey Crump, paramedic Frankie Burch and a team of emergency medical professionals walked through the Houstons’ front door, Don Houston lay on his bedroom floor unconscious. At that point, he was considered clinically dead.

Crump and the others moved Don Houston into the living room, where there was enough room to work on him. They started CPR and taking other measures as Don Houston lay next to the family’s Christmas tree, presents next to him. It was a week before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Rita Houston stood by, watching strangers try to save her husband.

In the moment, when Crump is saving someone’s life, she doesn’t think about those details. But when the adrenaline began to wear off, she does.

“There’s a part of me where I know I have to do something that’s my job, and there’s the part of me thinking ‘That’s her best friend, that’s a family member,’ and you do everything you can help save him,” Crump said.

Crump worked with with Burch and the Oklahoma City firefighters who arrived on the scene to save Don Houston’s life. They rotated jobs, each taking turns delivering the chest compressions that someone performs while giving CPR.

“The heart is not beating, and you’re beating for it — that’s what the chest compressions are for,” Crump said.

Crump and the others kept performing CPR on Don Houston until his heart reached a “shockable rhythm,” meaning it has enough activity to respond to the shock from a defibrillator, a device that gives a shock to the heart, according to the American Heart Association.

Sometimes a person’s heart is not beating at all, so it can’t be shocked. But if a person’s heart is fluttering, it sometimes can be shocked to bring it back to a normal and healthy rhythm, she said.

The first time they used the defibrillator, they did not get a quiver from Don Houston’s heart. Or the second. But the third time, there it was. His pulse returned, and they were able to transfer him to a nearby hospital.

“We have so much technology here and so many advanced pieces of equipment and different things we are given to use, and we’ve trained countless hours of trained on this stuff, and it worked,” Crump said.

“We used everything we had. We shocked him three times, and that third shock got it.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tags: , , , , ,

Husband Saves Wife with Newborn

Posted by cocreator on December 02, 2013
Events / No Comments

A Mississauga man credits a CPR course he took in September with helping him save his wife when her heart stopped last week.

Brian Andrade said his wife Chantelle Lavallee collapsed on the evening of Nov. 20, immediately after putting their newborn son in his bassinet.

Lavallee started feeling dizzy and then fell back and hit her head on the ground. Andrade started CPR when he realized her airways were constricted and she was turning blue. He stopped only to call 911.

“I told them, ‘Please send somebody. My wife, she’s not breathing,” Andrade said from the Credit Valley Hospital.

When paramedics arrived minutes later, they used a defibrillator to revive Lavallee, who had gone into cardiac arrest.

“The doctor and the paramedics had said if [Andrade] hadn’t reacted and done what he had done, the outcome would not be the way it was, period,” she said.

“I would have been dead.”

Only weeks earlier, when Lavallee was still pregnant, the couple had taken a crash course in infant CPR, which included 10 minutes on techniques for adults.

It was a fundraiser for Jesse Arrigo whose mother used CPR to save him after he fell into a backyard pond in May 2012 when he was 10 months old. He went 55 minutes without oxygen and still needs treatment not covered by OHIP.

“I thank the whole world I took Jesse’s class,” Andrade said. “It was all because of Jesse. He was my inspiration.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tags: , , , , ,

Young Daughters Save Father at Home

Posted by cocreator on October 11, 2013
Events / No Comments

Richard Blalock now knows you don’t have to be big to be a hero. He almost died, but was saved by two small ones.

The Blalock family: Lauren, 9, Richard, Sharon and Jenna, 8

The Blalock family: Lauren, 9, Richard, Sharon and Jenna, 8

His daughters Lauren, 9, and Jenna, 8, helped his wife Sharon Blalock prevent him from dying of a severe asthma attack last month in their Everett home.

Lauren, a fourth grader at Mukilteo Elementary, and Jenna, a third grader at Olivia Park Elementary, have no formal training, but followed their trained mom’s CPR instructions.

Richard, 43, suffered the asthma attack that caused him to stop breathing around 9 a.m. on Sept. 8. Just before he blacked out, he managed to say “Call 911.” His daughters were in the room and heard him.

“These three little heroes of mine did their best to keep me alive,” Richard said. “I’ve told them many, many times, ‘You guys are my heroes. You’ve really done an amazing job.’ I’m really thankful for them.”

Alerted by the girls’ screams, his wife Sharon called 911 and then she and the girls immediately started administering CPR. Sharon pumped his chest while Lauren and Jenna alternated giving mouth-to-mouth.

They continued for several minutes until paramedics arrived. It was another 3 1/2 minutes before Richard was breathing on his own.

Awake, he was transported to Providence Medical Center in Everett. He stayed there six days. Doctors said he had suffered acute respiratory failure.

Coincidentally, Richard’s own dad had died just five days earlier from an asthma attack. His heart had failed during the attack. He was 69.

“I didn’t want him to die just like his daddy,” Jenna said.

“Thank God,” Lauren said. “It was a miracle.”

Richard realizes he could have died that day, all because he hadn’t been taking care of himself.

“When [my dad] passed away, I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I was getting sicker, and my asthma was getting out of control,” Richard said. “This was kind of my fault.”

When his attack came, Richard tried to use his hospital-grade nebulizer, but it wasn’t helping.

A nebulizer is a medical device that delivers medication in the form of mist inhaled into the lungs.

“He literally chewed the thing,” Lauren said. “There were so many bite marks on the mouthpiece.”

“The hospital had to give him a new one,” Jenna said.

After 10 seconds on the nebulizer, Richard, who has been asthmatic since he was 5, realized that this was like no other asthma attack he’d ever had.

The last thing he remembered was hearing the girls scream before he blacked out.

“They said, ‘Daddy can’t breathe,’” Sharon said. “He was turning blue. The way he looked, he was dying.”

Sharon rushed into their bedroom and saw Richard struggling to breathe on the nebulizer. He wasn’t getting enough air and was about to pass out. Then he did.

The girls called 911 and then Sharon called 911 again because she feared the paramedics weren’t going to get there fast enough. That’s when she started chest compressions and asked the girls to help by blowing air into his lungs.

“His mouth is icky,” Jenna said.

“I felt like I was kissing a 9-year-old,” Lauren said.

Lauren tilted her dad’s head back and lifted his chin – without instruction. She had seen the move on a Nickelodeon TV show and mimicked it.

“It was on ‘Sam & Cat,’ and it was this episode where a guy was getting so freaked out that he passed out, and Sam and Cat were doing CPR on him,” Lauren said. “They tilted his head back, which caused him to start breathing again.”

“I’ve actually seen the episode, and it’s a really silly scene,” Richard said. “It’s surprising they were able to learn anything of value from it.”

As paramedics wheeled him to the ambulance, Richard saw how traumatized his wife and girls were and gave his family a thumbs up to let them know he was OK.

“The fact that I was awake and alive at all was a major miracle,” he said, adding that the paramedics praised his girls for their CPR work.

In the ER, doctors gave Richard the option of going home that day or staying overnight for observation. He asked to stay.

“It was pretty serious,” he said. “My lungs were in far worse shape than I think they realized.”

Richard connected the dots from his hospital bed: He had had a close call when home alone not long before the Sept. 8 asthma attack.

“If they hadn’t been there [this time], I would be dead,” Richard said. “Eventually my heart would have stopped.”

His asthma is the result of being raised in a home with second-hand smoke. Both of his parents smoked cigarettes. Richard’s dad had COPD and smoked until the day he died.

Richard is now home from the hospital and taking medication to control his asthma. He is off bereavement leave and was back to work as of Sept. 30.

He also wears a medical alarm and GPS at all times – his wife and girls made him order it.

Richard and his family are going to counseling to deal with the trauma of his near-death experience. Jenna is taking it the hardest, but talking about it seems to help.

“That CPR training I did, there was a reason I did it,” Sharon said. “It’s just so strange to me how I’m just casually taking a class, and then someday I use it on my husband.”

All four of them are all also going to sign up to take CPR classes. Sharon wants to become an expert.

“This is a testament to the power of CPR,” Richard said, “and how you can be a hero, no matter how small you are.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tags: , , , , , ,