In 2005 I attended NSC's Annual Congress & Expo. While in flight on the return trip home, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest. After a plea for help from a flight attendant, two nurses, Deb and Lori, quickly came to my aid. By this time my breathing had completely stopped.
Deb unbuttoned my shirt and called for an automated external defibrillator (AED) and ambu bag. She assembled the ambu bag, placed an oral airway and began hand bagging to force oxygen into my lungs. Lori prepared the oxygen tanks and assessed my circulation, which showed I had no pulse.
When the AED arrived, Deb unzipped the defibrillator and placed the pads on my chest. In unison, Deb and Lori worked the defibrillator in the cramped aisle. With no positive results, a second shock was administered. This time an irregular and weak pulse was detected. Slowly the rhythm improved and I began taking short breaths. The oral airway was then removed.
An IV was started and passengers gathered baby aspirin and other medicine to prevent another incident. When the plane prepared to make an emergency landing, Lori and Deb remained by my side on the aisle floor. I was rushed to an ambulance and spent a total of eight days in the hospital.
Today I am recovered and feel an obligation to share my story. Deb, who was pregnant when she saved my life, asked and I accepted the honor of being her son’s grandfather. Deb and Lori took it upon themselves to step in when a complete stranger needed them most. As a result of their actions, I lived. Without them, I would no longer be a husband, father and grandfather.
Since a young age, I dedicated my life to the safety of others. When I was 15-years-old, I joined the local fire department where my grandfather was the Fire Chief. He also owned the local funeral home that provided ambulance service and I was privileged to accompany him on ambulance calls. I learned from my grandfather and soon realized my calling in life – helping people.
As an EHS and fire service instructor, I hope and believe my students will have the opportunity to prevent injuries and illnesses, reduce suffering, and save lives – extending my passion, commitment, and influence. I never entertained the thought that one day I would be saved by the very skills I spent my career teaching.
I am blessed that on the day my heart stopped, others shared my calling and came to my rescue. I am here today because of their quick actions and the training they received. It is because of them that I can say I am a survivor.