While tending to my normal tasks as an employee at the Grand Glaize airport in Osage Beach, I was stricken with SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) and fell to the floor, clinically dead.
Prior to that incident my last overnight stay in a hospital took place in 1956 when at age 6 I had my tonsils removed. During the following 60 plus years I enjoyed near perfect health. I watched my diet and have taken health supplements for over 50 years. I seldom visit a doctor and even the common cold was a rarity for me.
I tell you this because the people involved in saving my life feel that my dietary supplementation habits played a large part in my survival and that I should share that information with others.
Was I just lucky or was it divine intervention?
Because I was working alone that day and with only sparse air traffic at that time of year, there was little chance of anyone discovering my demise very soon. However, as luck would have it, a fellow employee happened by the airport at around 4:30 pm (very close to the estimated time of occurrence). Upon discovering my lifeless body, he immediately called 911.
Unlike a heart attack, signs of SCA are sudden and without warning
Indications of a heart attack include chest pain, discomfort, or pain in one or both arms, stomach, back, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, or breaking out in a cold sweat. Whereas, signals of sudden cardiac arrest are quite apparent and very sudden and usually happen without warning, unlike a heart attack. In SCA, the victim loses consciousness and stops breathing. And an Automated External Defibrillator is the only way to get the heart beating again.
The first responders bought needed time with an AED
The first respondent to the 911 call was a police officer who is known and respected by nearly everyone in town. He is also trained in the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) which he carries in his patrol car. He immediately began administering the AED procedure and was doing so when the ambulance arrived. The ambulance crew continued to administer the procedure until arriving at the hospital where I was listed as DOA (dead on arrival).
Resuscitation doesn't always mean full recovery
Over 200,000 people die from cardiac arrest every year in America alone. CPR, (cardio pulmonary resuscitation ) including the use of an AED can increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest significantly. However, successful resuscitation doesn't always lead to a full recovery. In fact, over 80 percent of patients die despite receiving CPR and at least half of those that do recover face brain damage or some other form of disability. Less than 10 percent of SCA victims survive without long term damage. I am one of the fortunate few who have experienced a full recovery. I have no detectable signs of physical or neurological damage.
Therapeutic hypothermia is not new
While most people have never heard of therapeutic hypothermia, it has been used as a medical treatment for centuries. The Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the world’s first modern doctor, advocated the packing of wounded soldiers in snow and ice. And Napoleonic surgeon Baron Dominque Larrey found that wounded soldiers who were kept further from the fire had better survival rates than those who were kept closer.
Analysis shows that hypothermia is a severely “underused” procedure
The first documented clinical use of the procedure was in 1938 when Dr. Fay, a neurosurgeon at Temple University, used ice water baths and open windows in winter to treat patients with cancer. And a study regarding the effects of hypothermia on patients suffering from severe head injury was published in 1945. Today, even though therapeutic hypothermia is the only therapy proven to decrease mortality and improve neurological outcomes in comatose patients after cardiac arrest, an analysis of data on 26,519 patients in the United States indicates that it is used in only 0.35% of cases.