Surviving Cardiac Arrest

Surviving Cardiac Arrest

Apr 21, 2017

I’ve been out of this writing game for a bit, so you are all going to have to forgive as I play catchup to some stories that might be just a little older.  I assure you that they still carry relevance.

In my time “away” from writing, I’ve been doing a lot with the Resuscitation Academy.  Yes, that Resuscitation Academy.  I teach its concepts, and some of my colleagues and I have completely drank the Kool-Aid.  I will talk more about that at a later date, but I point it out here because I’ve become very passionate about all things cardiac arrest care which brings me to today’s story.

Some of you might have read the story about Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper who, while at Cross Fit in February, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.  In the article posted by CNN, Harper talks about how “. . . the fact there were doctors in the gym when I had the attack saved my life.”  He talks about how the doctors did CPR on him, and the doctors pulled the AED off of the wall and used it on him.

Mr. Harper is right, the almost immediate CPR and early defibrillation saved his life, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but the fact that the two people who provided care to him were doctors is completely irrelevant.  It wasn’t two doctors who saved his life, it was two people who were willing to act instead of just waiting for someone else to do something.  In this case, their occupation is not important.  I do not want to diminish the heroics of this event but had the story could have been an incredibly powerful vessel had it been told a different way.

The message that people need to hear in this case is that they need to learn CPR, some kind of CPR.  They do not need an AHA card in their pocket but understanding the fundamentals of hands-only CPR, for example, a skill that can been learned in 15 minutes or less, is one that can save a life.  Knowing where the AED’s are in the gym where you work out, or having the awareness to ask someone else to “find an AED” should you encounter someone in cardiac arrest is key.

Mr. Harper’s story is a great one.  It’s one of those cases where everything goes right.  It’s what all systems should strive for when someone goes into cardiac arrest.  They should push to educate their community members about cardiac arrest, and what they can do if someone drops in front of them.  It is unbelievable to me how much of an untapped resource that laypeople are.  Training our own is a piece of cake in comparison, but the dividends that society gains when people are willing to help in a medical emergency is immense.

It is great that Mr. Harper even has the opportunity to thank those who saved his life that day.  Actually, seeing and having a chance to meet a cardiac arrest survivor, someone who without intervention would not be here today, is a moving experience.  We need more stories like this told by the media.  I’m tired of hearing about long response times, and futile resuscitation efforts.  I want to hear more stories like Bob Harper.  I’m so glad that he was willing to share his experience.  It also appears that he intends to be part of the solution.  I’ll leave you with his words from the CNN article.

“I will never, ever, walk into a gym again that doesn’t have people who know CPR and an AED somewhere in that gym,” he said. “And I will make sure that every place has something like that.”

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