At Avive, we’re fortunate to meet Sudden Cardiac Arrest survivors and responders from all walks of life. Rarely, however, do we hear stories where the AED brought to the rescue didn’t have pads – and the victim still lived!
Kevin shared his remarkable story with Avive during the Cardiac Arrest Survival Summit in Seattle, Washington.
We hope it inspires you the same way it inspired us. And, as always, it’s a good reminder that the time has come for a smarter, more connected AED to let users know when electrode pads have expired or aren’t connected!
In this video you’ll learn…
- Kevin’s remarkable story of surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
- How responders overcame one faulty AED and were still able to save Kevin’s life
- Why the location of where Kevin experienced SCA helped his chances of survival
- How Kevin overcame his near-death experience to skate again!
- 01:00) A doctor yells for an AED
- (01:35) Responders learn that the AED was missing its electrode pads!
- (02:31) “Welcome back Kevin”
- (04:00) Kevin’s promise to himself
- (07:58) What Kevin would do to increase the odds of survival for more people
My name’s Kevin. I’m a cardiac arrest survivor. My cardiac arrest happened on November 26th of 2010. About nine years ago, I was officiating a girl’s hockey game in the Twin Cities when I went down in sudden cardiac arrest. The last thing I remember was that I felt a little dizzy. I thought I put out my hand to catch my fall, but everybody that was there that night said that that never happened. I just caught my fall with my nose. So I was very fortunate that there was a paramedic there for the hockey tournament. A doctor, who had a daughter playing in the game, came running out of the stands, and we had access to an AED. I was dead for about eight and a half minutes while they did CPR on me, and I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to both the doctor and the paramedic.
After this happened, they kind of filled me in on what happened during that eight and a half minutes and I was out or dead. So the paramedic saw me go down. He went running out onto the ice, rolled me over, saw that I was starting to turn blue and knew that I was in serious trouble. So he started chest compressions right away. The doctor recognized what was going on and came running out of the stands to help. And as he was running down the stands, he turned around and yelled at one of the other parents to go get the AED out of the arena office. So the doctor and the paramedic traded off doing chest compressions on me while they waited for the AED to arrive. The AED got down to the ice level. They opened it up and looked at it and the doctor said, well, where are the electrodes?
The AED was in two identical boxes sitting right next to each other on the floor of the arena office. So they had to send somebody running back up to the office to retrieve the second box. And in the meantime, the doctor and the paramedic got into an argument, the paramedic wanted to move me off the ice cause he didn’t like the crowd of people that were gathering around. And the doctor said, no, we’re not moving them until we have an outcome, and I’m glad that the doctor won that argument, or I might not be here today. But the second box got down to the ice level. They opened it up, put the electrodes on me, plugged it into the AED, it said to deliver a shock. They delivered the first shock and then started in on chest compressions again and the doctor had his hand on the inside of my thigh and he felt the first pulse come through really strongly and he told the paramedic to just stop and watch and as they watched the color started to slowly come back into my body in through my face, my eyes fluttered open.
The next thing I remember there was a lady with really warm hands holding my hand that said, welcome back Kevin. That happened the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2010 they took me into the hospital that night. I didn’t realize that there was a difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest until I was in the bed in the emergency room. And I saw this emergency room nurse coming at me with a syringe that looked like it was about this big. And I said, Whoa, Whoa, wait a minute. What’s that? I said, is that some kind of clot busting drug? And he said, no, why would you need that? I said, well, didn’t I have a heart attack? He goes, no, you had a cardiac arrest. That’s something completely different. Up until that point, I didn’t know that there was a difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest.
So this happened the Friday after Thanksgiving, Saturday morning, uh, they did an angiogram and found some blocked cardiac arteries. Sunday morning they put in three stents. By noon on Monday, I was out of the hospital. By Wednesday of that week, I was walking around the mall with my wife and by the 20th of December I was back on the ice officiating hockey again. And one of the, one of the things that I think kind of helped me to recover a little bit faster is I made a couple of promises to myself when I was laying there in that hospital bed. And one of them was that I wanted to get back on the ice with both of those teams as quickly as I possibly could to prove to the girls that I survived. And I was able to do that.
And the other thing I wanted to do was to try and find a way to create more survivors like myself. So that’s the biggest reason why I teach CPR at the corporate level, is to try and prepare people to deal with these kinds of emergencies so that they know what to do. They know where the AEDs are located and they start becoming a little bit more aware of not only cardiac arrest but just their general surroundings, where the AEDs are located as they’re walking through a building, things like that. So that they start to tune in a little bit more to some of these kinds of things and, and try and help build a little bit more support for CPR and, and make sure that people understand what they need to do in an emergency.
None whatsoever. And, and even now, I’m still amazed at the wide disparity of survivor experiences as I read about them. You know, and some of these people are really struggling and you know, it just goes back to how fortunate I was to have somebody there to start CPR as quickly as they did on me. And you know, one of the more promising therapies for cardiac arrest victims is cryotherapy. And you know, here I was laying on a 185 by 85 foot ice cube with no shirt on. That’s cryotherapy as quickly as you can get it when it happens. So I think those kinds of things really contributed to the fact that I made it through this experience. I didn’t have any permanent heart damage. I don’t have an implantable defibrillator. My ejection fraction coming out of this event was right where it needed be. One way. When I started looking at the wide spectrum of survivors’ experiences, I got a lot of empathy for these people because they’re going through things that I really didn’t have to go through. And, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here is just to try and learn a little bit more about some of those experiences.
That’s a great question because you know, I have some pretty strong opinions about that. And you know, that’s another reason why I wanted to come to this was to get the opportunity to talk to the people from the American heart association and also the red cross. Because I think that, you know, we’re missing out on some opportunities here and that’s where we’re missing out on the opportunity to reach deeper into the community and teach hands only CPR because the bystanders are really the first link in this chain of survival. And if we can’t get a bystander that is willing to act and act in it properly in an emergency, the cardiac arrest victim has a very low chance of survival. So that’s where, where my focus is. And that’s where I think at times the American heart association on the red cross are, are kind of missing the boat.
We really need to push that bystander CPR and hands only CPR a little bit more strongly so that everybody knows how to do it. You know, it can be taught very quickly in 10 minutes. And, uh, you know, as a survivors group in Minnesota, we’ve, um, made some inroads at the state level and we got CPR added as a graduation requirement for all people graduating from high school now. So they have to prove proficiency in CPR. And, uh, that’s, that’s one step. But we have to reach deeper into the community and take every opportunity we have to, to try and reach people.
From what I’ve been able to read there, there’s two, two pieces to increasing the number of survivors. One is widespread CPR training, so everybody needs to do it and the other one is more public access to fibrillate. There’s right now I think for the second part of it, getting more ads out there, um, it’s a little cost prohibitive. So we need to need to find a way to get more people, more access to ads. You know, they’re in most public buildings and certainly in shopping malls. And I know the building that I work in, there’s probably 30 of them, but a lot of companies aren’t quite as progressive as maybe Cargill is in that regard and, and haven’t jumped on the AED bandwagon. But the truth is that they save lives. They’ve saved lives for our company, they save lives in our building. So, um, there’s no reason not to put them out there.
I’m a huge proponent for hands only CPR and getting more people to take CPR training and whatever form it happens to be. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a four hour certification class. It can be a two hour class or a one hour class. And, and really that’s, that’s one of the things, directions that I’d like to see both the aha and the red cross go in, is to shorten up those classes. You know, particularly in a business environment, like I work in a corporate environment, it’s tough to take people away from their job for a four hour time block to get them certified. But we could be just as effective, maybe more effective if we did it in one hour increments and simplified it a little bit so that it can be taught that way. And there’s no reason why it can’t be, we just have to develop the mindset that this is something that we need to do. This is a health risk throughout the country and we really needed to tackle it.