Happy to Be Alive
/ Author: Donald Mundy 1484 Rate this article:
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Happy to Be Alive

Dave Fisher never learned how to do CPR. He didn’t let that stop him from saving his coworker’s life

By Don Mundy, Representative

IT WAS A COOL, BRISK Saturday morning in Kelowna, BC, when Local 66 members Brad Wilcox and Dave Fisher walked out of their hotel room and headed out to the job. The two employees of Bandstra Moving Systems Ltd. had left from Richmond on Thursday and driven over 400 kilometres to Kelowna, stopping along the way on Friday to make a delivery.

That morning, they were delivering a load of close to 8,000 pounds of home furnishings for a client moving to the Okanagan Valley. Their job was to finish unloading the truck and set up the customer’s furnishings in the house, located about 40 minutes outside of downtown Kelowna.

Moving furniture is a tough, physical job, but both Brad and Dave had been doing it for decades. They’d worked together at Bandstra as a team for over 18 years.

But something was off that morning. After breakfast, Brad told Dave he wasn’t feeling well.

“That was strange to hear,” says Dave. “Brad had never once complained about anything in all the years I’d worked with him. He was the type of guy who put his nose down and got the job done.”

On the way to the job, Brad once again told Dave he wasn’t feeling well.

“He looked white when we got to the house, and I told him to just take it easy,” says Dave.

Little did Dave know that his friend was about to have a major heart attack. His coworker’s life soon would be—literally—in his hands.

BRAD AND DAVE PARKED THE truck at the top of the driveway, and it was a good distance to get down the steep hill to the house, which was on the side of a mountain. The plan was to use a shuttle to go between the delivery truck and the house because of the size of the truck. Two local temp hires joined Brad and Dave, and together they started moving the first load down from the truck to the shuttle to the garage.

On the way down, Brad said to Dave, “Stay close to me. I’m not feeling well.”

When they got to the bottom, Dave suggested that Brad should go to the hospital after they finished the first load.

“He wasn’t looking well and he leaned up against the wall in the garage.”

The two headed back up the hill to the truck and parked the shuttle near the delivery truck and got out.

“I was walking just behind Brad, keeping a close eye on him,” says Dave. “When we got near the truck, I saw him stumble. He bounced off the shuttle and then bounced off the truck and started to fall. I caught his head just before he hit the ground.

“At first, I thought he’d slipped because it was a little icy. But then I saw that he wasn’t breathing.”

Dave quickly realized that his long-time friend was in the midst of a full-blown heart attack.

“I saw his stomach start to extend out because he wasn’t breathing. I started pumping his chest. I’ve never had CPR training, but I’d seen it done on TV. I had no idea if I was doing it right or not. When I pumped his chest, his stomach went down, and I could see him breathing just a little.”

DAVE SCREAMED FOR HELP but the two helpers were so far down the hill that they couldn’t hear him. He ran and honked the horn on the truck and then ran back and continued doing CPR.

“When I came back from honking the horn, Brad’s stomach was extended again. I pumped his chest some more and he started breathing.”

Dave honked the horn again and kept screaming for help. The customer finally heard Dave yelling and came to the scene.

“I tried phoning 911,” says Dave. “But because we were quite a ways up the mountain, I didn’t have any cellphone coverage. The customer dialed and he got through.”

Dave continued doing CPR while the customer held the phone so he could talk and listen to the 911 dispatcher. He described what was happening, and the emergency worker coached him on how best to do CPR.

“The dispatcher told me I was doing it too quickly,” says Dave. “She gave me a rhythm to keep. One, two—push. One, two—push. That really helped.”

But Dave was getting tired. His arms were giving out. The other two helpers were overwhelmed and in shock by the situation and were unable to help.

As fate would have it, a neighbour drove by. He stopped his car and ran over to assist Dave and relieved him for a few minutes.

“The neighbour probably pumped Brad’s chest 100 times or so. I figure all in, I must have pumped his chest at least 1,000 times.”

Dave took over again after a short while and continued CPR until the paramedics showed up. His best estimate is that he performed CPR on Brad for 23 minutes—17 while he was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher.

“When the ambulance guys arrived, they asked me to keep going for a bit while they got all their equipment ready. I was exhausted, but I kept at it for another 30 seconds or so. Then the professionals took over.”

Three paramedics worked frantically for another half hour in a desperate bid to save Brad’s life.

“I sat back and prayed,” says Dave. “But I knew he was going to make it.”

EVENTUALLY, THE PARAMEDICS STABILIZED BRAD enough to load him into the ambulance. There wasn’t enough room for Dave, but he made it to the hospital soon afterward to check on his friend’s condition.

The medical staff at the hospital told Dave that Brad was unconscious. But he was alive! The next day, Dave went back to the hospital to visit his friend and see how he was doing. He was allowed into the room and briefly talked to Brad.

“I don’t remember anything that happened in Kelowna,” says Brad. “In fact, I don’t even remember driving up there.

“The first thing I remember is waking up in the hospital and the nurse telling me I had a heart attack. My chest was very sore.”

Normally, after a major heart attack like the one Brad had, it takes a person between five to seven days to come to. But Brad woke up the next day, which is something of a miracle.

His parents, sister, and niece came up the following day to see him. Eventually, he was airlifted to Surrey Memorial Hospital and saw his teenage daughter and son the day after he was admitted.

“Seeing my kids for the first time after the heart attack was very emotional,” says Brad. “Going through something like this puts things in perspective real fast. Having a second chance is amazing.”

Brad’s official diagnosis is that he suffered a STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction), which is a blockage of one of the major arteries supplying blood to the heart. The surgeon put a stent in his artery later on in the evening on the day that he had his heart attack.

Following his release from the hospital shortly after returning to the Lower Mainland, Brad stayed with his parents for a couple of weeks. Remarkably, he returned to work at Bandstra on March 1, barely three months after his heart attack.

“I can’t tell you how thankful I am to my good friend Dave,” says Brad. “Most people would not have worked on someone that long. But Dave kept going. He saved my life. He is a real hero! I’m happy to be alive.”

How to Save a Life

Early CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can make the difference between life and death when someone suddenly collapses. Chest compressions keep oxygen circulating in the body. Without oxygen, the brain begins to die after four to six minutes. Brain death occurs after eight to ten minutes.

Many people do not know how to do full CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths), but as Dave Fisher demonstrated, even basic compression-only CPR can save a life. If someone goes into cardiac arrest, always perform compression-only CPR at a minimum.

Note that compression-only CPR is not effective for a person who is in cardiac arrest due to a respiratory problem (drowning, choking) because of the lack of oxygen in the blood to circulate. In this case, traditional CPR with two rescue breaths for every 30 compressions should be performed.

How to Perform Compression-only CPR

  • Begin immediately—don’t wait to remove clothing.
  • Place your hands on top of each other in the middle of the chest on the lower half of the sternum.
  • Push deeply and steadily at least five centimetres (two inches) down for adults and at least one-third the depth of the chest for children and infants. It is better to go too deep than not deep enough.
  • Count the compressions out loud with a pause in between. For example, say “One and two and three and four. . . .”
  • Aim for 100-120 compressions per minute.
  • Don’t lean on the person’s chest between compressions. The chest needs to recoil between compressions to allow blood to the heart’s coronary arteries. Compressions keep the brain alive. Recoil ensures the heart muscle gets oxygen.

Keep at It!

  • You don’t need to be strong to perform CPR. All the power you need comes from your upper body weight.
  • Don’t rock back and forth while performing compressions. Doing so wastes energy and makes them less effective.
  • Minimize interruptions. Compressions build pressure in the arteries, and when this pressure drops, the blood does not circulate as effectively. Any interruption should only be for critical interventions, such as applying AED pads.
  • Extended CPR is tiring, even when done properly, and the quality of compressions drops with exhaustion. If another person is ready and willing, alternate every two minutes.

Source: redcross.ca

Stayin’ Alive

Not sure how to keep a 100-120 beats-per-minute tempo? Music can help you achieve the right speed for doing compressions.

10 Songs to Help You Keep the Beat

1. “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees, 103 BPM

2. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA, 100 BPM

3. “Cecilia” – Simon & Garfunkel, 102 BPM

4. “Rock Your Body” – Justin Timberlake, 100 BPM

5. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor, 117 BPM

6. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper, 120 BPM

7. “Just Dance” – Lady Gaga, Colby O’Donis, 119 BPM

8. “Rumour Has It” – Adele, 120 BPM

9. “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira, 100 BPM

10. “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies, 113 BPM

Source: procpr.org

ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction

What Is It?

  • ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is how cardiologists describe a classic heart attack.
  • ST refers to the flat section in between heartbeats of an electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • During a heart attack, the ST section of an ECG appears abnormally elevated instead of flat.

What Causes It?

  • STEMI is caused when part of the heart muscle dies due a blockage of one of the heart’s major arteries supplying blood.
  • It is a type of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which occurs when a blood clot forms within a coronary artery, usually because of an acute rupture of plaque on artery walls. The clot may partially or completely block the artery causing the heart muscle to die.
  • ACS occurs in three distinct patterns: STEMI, non-STEMI, and unstable angina.
    • STEMI – When the artery is completely blocked
    • Non-STEMI – When the artery is partially blocked
    • Unstable angina – When ACS produces symptoms without causing the heart muscle to die but puts a person at high risk of a STEMI or non-STEMI

12 Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

1. Intense, squeezing chest pain or pressure often extending to the neck, jaw, shoulder, or arm

2. Pain around the shoulder blades, arm, chest, jaw, left arm, or upper abdomen

3. Pale or bluish-looking skin

4. Profuse sweating for no reason

5. Cold sweat, clammy skin

6. Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, abdominal pain, or vomiting

7. Fatigue or sudden exhaustion

8. Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

9. Sudden dizziness or lightheadedness

10. Heart palpitations (increased or irregular heart rate)

11. Profound sense of impending doom

12. Denial

Contrary to what many people think, not everyone who has a heart attack has severe chest pain. Many women, seniors, and those with diabetes may only experience soft signs (men may have them too).

4 Soft Signs

1. Chest discomfort that

  • Comes and goes
  • Doesn’t feel like pain
  • Starts mild and gets worse
  • Improves with rest
  • Feels worse with movement/exertion

2. Tiredness

3. Stomach/intestinal upset

4. Flu-like symptoms

Sources: mayoclinic.org, verywellhealth.com, ecgmedicaltraining.com, redcross.ca

Moving Hassles

Moving companies existed well before automobiles came on the scene in 1885. Local delivery companies would pack and crate belongings and transport them by horse-drawn carriages to warehouses located near railway stations for shipment by rail. The moving company would then transport the belongings by train to a warehouse at a station near the destination and then have them delivered by another local delivery company to the person’s home.

The process, known in the moving industry as storage in transit or SIT, involved a lot of handling. Belongings were loaded onto a wagon, stacked at one warehouse, loaded onto the train, unloaded and stacked at the destination warehouse, loaded again onto a wagon, and finally unloaded at the home.

With the introduction of the internal combustion engine and the rapid expansion of paved roads during World War I, the moving industry changed dramatically in the early 1990s. Ford’s one-ton TT truck, which became available in 1917, quickly became the industry standard for moving. The TT was based on the Model T but had a heavier frame and rear axle.

But early trucking moving companies faced one big problem: drivers often waited a long time before a return move was lined up. Returning empty, known as deadheading, cut into profits.

United Van Lines was formed in 1928, originally as Return Loads Service Inc. in Cleveland, specifically to counter this problem. The company registered and dispatched orders centrally so moving companies could avoid deadheading. Bandstra Moving Systems Ltd., whose employees have been represented by Local 66 since 1988, is a member of the sister company, United Van Lines (Canada) Ltd.

Sources: zippgo.com, hireahelper.com, wikipedia.org, uvl.ca

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