Save a Life – It Might Be Yours

The other day, I received an email from a friend and colleague that changed the way I think about running and taking care of yourself (and others).  It gave me chills, and still does.  For purposes of this post, I’ll call him Brent.  I asked him if I could use his story as a cautionary tale, but I agreed to change his name for this.  Brent had been with us on a previous expedition and you have to picture him as tall, athletic, military trained, fit, healthy, devoted family man and just all around great guy who looks out for others besides carrying a senior executive position:

“Friends Happy New Year to you all.  I trust you all had a great Christmas.

Whilst most of you know this nevertheless I wanted to both thank everyone for their support and best wishes over the last week, and give everyone the latest update after my “little adventure” on December 27th.

(For those who are unaware I had a cardiac arrest whilst running with my boys; they gave me immediate CPR, got help and an ambulance who de-fibrillated me and got me to the Hospital Cardiac Centre – thanks to all that immediate action I am fine).

I was very lucky given that I was clinically dead and in the middle of the woods. My sons did a great job – one getting on with CPR and mouth to mouth, the other calling the ambulance and finding some help since he didn’t know exactly where we were. He found 3 walkers, one who could give accurate directions, the other who ran through the woods to the road to show the ambulance where to enter, and the third who helped with the CPR. An ambulance was sitting a mile away and came straight away – they arrived in the woods some 9 minutes after the call.

The “what-if’s” here don’t need too much reflection; given 99% of the time I run on my own, always in the woods and there is a 5% survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest when it happens outside with no defibrillator. So we are not reflecting on it. It has however cost me a lot of champagne by way of “thank-you” gifts to all those involved.

I assumed this type of thing happens more regularly (with a positive outcome), but every health professional is clearly fascinated by the circumstances and calls it remarkable given the help I received and my quick recovery. We have been interviewed by the local media – which I agreed to on the basis of encouraging others to be CPR trained.  As you know I have done a lot of medical training including with the army, so I had encouraged the boys to do medical training as well – they have both completed 3 separate courses since they were 13. I wanted them to know for their lives ahead, I wasn’t planning on being the recipient!

I am looking forward to 2015.

All the best

My lessons and things to think of for all of us:

  1. Don’t run alone, if you don’t have to.  If you do, see #2 and 3 and 4 below.
  2. If you do, run in populated areas or where other runners are likely to be
  3. Make sure someone (your loved one(s)) know where you are and when you are expected back.
  4. Carry not just ID (bracelet etc) but also instructions for those that might find you if you have a heart attack, since the time to take action from strangers is literally minutes and will make the difference between life & death.
  5. Get a physical, a full physical every year.  Yes, the tests won’t show everything, but your good/bad cholesterol, and diabetes markers will show up and allow you to do something about them.
  6. Get CPR trained and encourage your friends, family and your office to do the same.

Keep Running but Be Safe.  Get CPR trained.  You might be called upon to save a life.