“I was fine. I was skiing. I was doing my sport. Then, I was dead.”
At high elevation in Arizona, Larry hoped to get in one more day of skiing before the end of the season. Unfortunately, his afternoon was cut short when he collapsed from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
Larry collapsed on the slopes, near a doctor who helped organize an effective response. Calling for someone to deliver CPR while someone else fetched the AED located in the nearby lodge, they were able to save Larry’s life.
Receiving such early defibrillation, Larry quickly awoke to responding ski patrol – an amazingly fast recovery for someone clinically dead moments prior. Watch Larry share his story.
In this video you’ll learn…
- About Larry’s warning signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
- Many of the factors that worked in Larry’s favor
- What Larry said to the ski patrol moments after they saved his life
- (01:05) Larry feeling shortness of breath prior to collapsing
- (02:23) Larry responding to ski patrol shortly after being defibrillated
- (03:53) Larry describing all of the things that went right during his rescue
- (05:56) The greatest feeling in the world
Good morning. My name’s Larry Gerberi. I’m a very grateful survivor of sudden cardiac arrest. This happened March 19th of last year, so I haven’t had my first anniversary yet, but I’m looking forward to celebrating that day. It was a 90-degree day in Phoenix. I was there at my partner, it was end of March as I mentioned. So we were anxious to get one last ski in. I had skied, four or five times prior to this, so we drove up to Flagstaff, to the ski resort there, that’s 9,000, 200 feet elevation. And my partner was, going to take a lesson, but I had time before the lesson was scheduled to do one. Right. So I put on a skis, I went up the Hill, skied part way down and I seemed to be a little out of breath, but I’m not surprised at that altitude because Phoenix is only a thousand feet.
And, stop caught my breath when another third of the way down and, still felt a little winded, caught my breath, skied to the bottom, cause I was gonna help my partner get ready for her lesson. When I took my skis off, bend down to pick them up and I went down too. So, fortunately, I went down right next to the ER doctor, the flakes that hospital Nicholas [inaudible] who diagnosed it very promptly, got somebody to do a CPR immediately and send somebody to get the AED at the lodge, which was a while, I don’t know, maybe a couple of hundred yards away at most. I before collapsing I felt a little nauseous, I think, and busy. And I remember thinking to myself, well, I’ll just fight this off. But that’s the last thing I recall. So when I came to, I came to in the sled that was attached to a snowmobile, and the paramedics were there, trying to remove my ski jacket, which I protested.
I said you know, don’t cut my ski jacket off now. I already was bare-chested because the AED had to be administered. But they wanted to go ahead and put the leads on for the EKG. So they didn’t listen to me and they went ahead and cut my ski jacket off in the shreds. , but when I did come to, I, advise them where my phone was and how to contact my partner and told some of them surprisingly that, the iPhone has all your medical information readily available and how to access that. And to my amazement, they, they learned that from me. So anyway, they got a phone call to my partner and, the ski patrol who I greatly appreciate, found her in a locker room getting ready and brought her over to me. When I did wake up, I was on the way to the helicopter pad and I was helicoptered over to Flagstaff medical center, for the ER. The next day later I met dr [inaudible] and, had the conversation with him. And of course, there isn’t anything that you can really say to somebody who saved her life in appreciation.
I mean, that’s what you want to do. Really. There’s so many people that were involved, the ski patrol and them, the people who got the AED. And I was just so fortunate to have this occur where it did when I fell, I had my helmet on, I fell on snow, which is soft, rather than over a cliff or something. , it was cold. So my body cold. , and I w I just, it just goes to show you that when you start CPR immediately and you get through a D, you can survive. And I, one of the, which I recognize now very few people who have survived with very little complications. , as I got more involved and studied, sudden cardiac arrest, I know that people have been in comas for awhile and, the poor family is on pins and needles.
Luckily, my loved ones didn’t witness the event and, only saw me after I was resuscitated. I don’t know if I mentioned when I did come to, in the slide where all the activity, I wasn’t surprised at all that, that, that, that was happening to me. So again, I want to share with you, this is my CPR bystander card. I’m, I’m retired. I was never in the medical profession but wanted to know what to do in the event I was, witnessing, CPR event, and I got my third renewal on March 6th, and my event was the 19th. So go ahead and, get trained on CPR and how to use the AED cause you never know when you’re going to be in a position to help. And if you are in a position to help and save life, I mean you are just, it’s gotta be the greatest feeling in the world.
I’m here because we’re in a 2020 time period and the technology exists, to support saving lives. And the message has already gotten out pretty much, maybe not enough to have AEDs available all over the place because it, I mean, really this was the case where I was healthy. I was fine, I was skiing, I was doing my sports, then I was dead. And after I got revived through the technology and the training of the people, I was back to myself again, which is a miracle. And I appreciate not everybody has the successful experience that I had and my heart goes out to them. I mean, it’s just, you know, it’s like survivor guilt. I survived, but I survived completely. And other people struggle with it and they struggle because they don’t have the response that I have. Well, I would say one thing, if you know, to make them more readily available. So they’re everywhere, particularly in senior centers. Now I’m going to go home and check and make sure our senior center has an AED, although we have a local ambulance car, but they, they seem to me pretty easy to use with today’s technology.