Have you ever had something happen and look back on it and know it wasn’t a coincidence? My husband Ben, was coaching our girls’ softball game and halfway through the game he received two phone calls back to back from his brother and a text message. Ben knew it wasn't good when his brother kept calling. When he answered, his brother told him his dad had just suffered sudden cardiac arrest and was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance.
We are only two hours away from where they live, so we immediately we left the game to go to the hospital where his dad was taken. Needless to say, my husband and I and our two girls were in shock. The only thing we could do was pray and ask others to pray.
Prayers started being answered as we travelled south in our van to Fort Myers getting positive updates from family along the way. When we got to the hospital, my father-in-law, Tom was in the intensive care unit (ICU). It was late, after hours, but we were able to see him. It just so happens the hospital my husband's dad was taken to was the one my sister-in-law works at as an emergency room nurse, so she got us right in.
When we saw him, he was doing OK. He was alive and talking. We were so happy to be there and see him. It was a relief. But he wasn't out of the woods yet. The doctors had to figure out why he had no symptoms and collapsed.
During the next week, he would undergo several tests. The first test showed his arteries were blocked including the anterior interventricular branch of the left coronary artery known as the widow maker artery and he needed six stents put in. A few days later another test showed he needed to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) put in.
As the week went by, we learned more and more about the people involved in saving his life and more details of what happened and how things weren’t a coincidence.
For years, my husband's dad who is 71 years-old, has been playing indoor racquetball at a local country club with a group of friends.
That night during one of the games, his friends told us all of the sudden my father-in-law slid down the wall like you would see in a cartoon. He didn’t respond, wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, which would indicate cardiac arrest.
Immediately, one of his friends started cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, while the others called 911 for help and ran to get the club's automated external defibrillator (AED). Within minutes the paramedics were there along with Lee County's EMS deputy chief of training and a Lee County Sheriff's deputy. They happened to be in the area when they heard the call go out on a scanner.
Here's where the story gets interesting. The man who performed the CPR, had just learned how to do CPR during a dinner party two weeks prior from one of the racquetball friends, who happens to be a doctor. He out of the blue asked the doctor to show him because he didn't know how to do it. The doctor told him to push down in the center of the chest and do 100 compressions per minute. Little did he know two weeks later he would save his friend's life.
The CPR wasn't enough to get him breathing again, so they needed to shock him with an AED. Not all places have an AED and if there wasn't one there, I would be sharing a very different story. I never realized until this happened how important it is to have a defibrillator. It saved my father-in-law's life. I now know more about defibrillators and why public places especially sporting facilities need them. They aren't cheap costing about $1600, but the price is no comparison to a life.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, when a person suffers SCA the first three to five minutes after a person collapses are crucial in saving the person's life. Statistics show nine out of ten people who suffer from SCA die. Those who survive usually have some sort of brain damage. My father-in-law is alive and doesn't have any complications. Truly a miracle.
The doctors at the hospital were amazed to see how well my father-in-law was doing and told us he was a lucky man and yes, he is a walking miracle. It’s not too often doctors see someone in as good of condition after having SCA.
Everything worked like clockwork. The fire station was only a few blocks away, so they were there in minutes. Somehow even though my father-in-law was in and out of consciousness, the EMS deputy chief could talk to him and get my mother-in-law’s phone number. She was able to be at the hospital in minutes.
My father-in-law’s near-death experience made me realize just how important CPR is and why public places should have AED’s. My father-in-law wouldn't be here today, if it weren’t for his friend knowing CPR, the facility having a AED and the power of prayer.
Additional Information and Websites:
For more information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest visit Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.
If you would like to find out place to learn CPR visit American Red Cross, Suncoast Safety Council, or In-Pulse CPR.
In Pinellas County, FL there is a class on August 9, 2017 at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. It is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can register by calling 1.855.422.3338 or click here to go to their website .