When my 73 year old good friend, J.D., awoke last Monday morning he had absolutely no clue that before he would retire for the night that his heart would stop beating and he would be pulseless, breathless and dying. After having a good day doing his chores, running his errands and renovating a rental, he and his wife Shirley made it on over to the Stone County softball diamond
where J.D.’s church softball team, Lighthouse Fellowship Worship Center, was scheduled to play a league game. They’ve been playing all summer long and have especially enjoyed the camaraderie.
J.D. was assigned pitching duties this particular evening and the team was actually doing well until the Grim Reaper tried to make his appearance. On making the third out of the inning, J.D. walked off the mound toward the dugout and just as he approached the dugout entrance he suddenly and without warning
collapsed, initially grabbing hold of the dugout post then, like a felled Southern pine, in a second was on the ground. It was immediately apparent to all that something was seriously wrong with J.D.
Within seconds of seeing the commotion around the lying-on-the-ground-J.D., an EMT student, Heather Gardner, bolted out of the bleachers and ran to J.D.‘s side where the players had gathered around him. Heather assessed the situation, felt for a pulse, checked for breaths, determined there were none, and immediately began CPR. Seconds later, retired nurse Jean Dean came to assist Heather and the two of them, a team, proceeded to attempt to revive the soup kitchen volunteer. Someone called 911.
After what probably seemed to Heather and Jean like an eternity, the ambulance arrived shortly and the EMTs took over, shocking the heart twice to reset its rhythm, maintaining the heart beat and pulse that Heather and Jean had recovered. They hurried J.D. over to the Stone County Hospital where doctors stabilized him and he was then transferred to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport. At
MHG he was, medically speaking, fine-tuned further in the ER and then moved, alive, to the ICU.
The next day J.D. underwent a cardiac catheterization and further testing and he was found, surprisingly, to have open coronary arteries, no heart attack, no stroke, but instead had experienced a dysrhythmia of the heart (a malignant rhythm out of a sync). On the third hospital day his cardiologist implanted a defibrillator which will prevent future blackouts and near-death spells as well
as allow J.D. to return to the diamond to work on his batting average.
I’m not sure what the current percent of sudden death in public places is but more people who have Heather and Jean’s CPR skills are essential to communities that wish to improve on this public health statistic. The more of them we have around us the less likely John Q. Public is going to incur a sudden death on the
In most communities it’s primarily people in health-related careers who, during their training, learn CPR. But experience has shown that in communities where non-medically oriented folks with CPR skills exist in large numbers that the rate of death from sudden cardiac arrest is much much lower than other communities with fewer CPR-skilled citizens. In general, in these cities it is
usually the city leaders who spearhead, create awareness and promote programs to encourage all citizens to acquire CPR skills.
I encourage every adult to learn CPR skills. Anyone can learn it. The American Red Cross gives classes and in fact they give a Hands-On Only class that takes about 30 minutes. Do it. Having this skill may be the only thing that saves your neighbor or perhaps someone close to you. We don’t want to have to rely only on Lady Luck for life-saving heroes like Heather and Jean to be nearby should any of us receive the fate of J.D. Otherwise if it weren’t for these two women we would have lost a fine friend, good husband and soup kitchen volunteer -- not to mention a fun-lovin’ Christian softball player. Congratulations and many thanks to Heather Gardner and Jean Dean for their quick response and expert skills in saving the life of our good friend. They’re an
asset to their community!
South Mississippi Red Cross CPR Classes