Save Date: September 28, 2009
It was September 28, 2009 when I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest - my breath and heart stopping without warning. I was attending a meeting of Boy Scout Troop 26 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began answering an adult's question about my recent vacation, when suddenly - and without warning - I collapsed onto the gymnasium floor.
Troop leaders were true to the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared," and I am grateful I was there when this happened. Luckily the group had an Automatic External Defibrillator which shocked my heart and brought me back to life.
In addition to the lifesaving technology, a scout's father also in attendance was a retired emergency room doctor who immediately recognized that I was going into cardiac arrest. He instructed someone to call 911, another person to start chest compressions, and another to fetch the troop's AED. The doctor began rescue breathing as he saw both my breathing and heart had stopped, my face turning purple-blue.
As soon as they had the pads in place on my bare chest, the AED monitored my heart then signaled a shock was necessary. After two "therapy shocks," my heart started back up! And by the time the ambulance arrived I was already sitting up, asking "where am I and what happened?"
The EMTs later told me it was the first time in memory that an SCA victim talked to them all the way to the hospital. Coincidentally, the cardiology doctor assigned to me was the one who donated the AED to Troop 26, when his son was an Eagle Scout.
I had no symptoms beforehand, but the cardiac specialists discovered a blocked artery which they opened with a stent, and later tests showed an electrical problem within my heart, so they implanted a small defibrillator/pacemaker.
My story has received much concern from the local community and media outlets. I have since launched fund-raising efforts to obtain a defibrillator for the Elks as well as my wife's Linneaus Teaching Garden in Tulsa. It is the least I can do to partially pay back the community for saving my life.