The faces of sudden cardiac arrest
The Team Rules, OK!
Kayla Burt, 20, Seattle, Wa. (2002) It was New Year’s Eve, and Kayla Burt’s basketball team was staying over to celebrate. But Kayla never saw the festivities. Instead, she had a brush with death. When Kayla fell face down between the bed and the TV, they all thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t. None of her teammates knew CPR, although they’d seen it on TV. How hard could it be? Luckily the EMTs were there in minutes. Kayla is proud that she lived in Seattle. It’s one of the best cities for cardiac arrest survival, chiefly because of their Medic One program.
Childhood Friendship Lives On
Brett Kuhn, 18, Mt Pleasant, Mich. (2010) Brett and Chris are buddies from a young age. They had their differences, over football that is. Brett was a Chippewa (Central Michigan), and that day they were playing the Broncos (Western Michigan). Chris is a Michigan State Spartan, but that didn’t stop him from saving Brett’s life later that night in an unusual emergency. A fit and healthy 18-year-old track and field star isn’t supposed to drop down dead at an aftergame party. “We were standing around, and my friend saw me fall, hitting my head on a table and it collapsed on top of me,” Brett says. “Chris rolled me over and saw my face was pale and my eyes rolled back into my head.” Chris had taken a CPR class and knew what to do. “He told someone to call 9-1-1, and after about 13 or 14 minutes of CPR, the police arrived,” Bret explained. It took another seven minutes for the paramedics to appear, and they took over.
Running into Trouble
Paula Milliner, 20, Indianapolis, Ind. (2010) How do you tell a fit, healthy, athletic teenager she cannot play sports? You explain how she might die. “When I was sixteen I got diagnosed with a heart condition, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy [HCM]. It’s a genetic disorder, and they told me I couldn’t play any competitive sports,” Paula says carefully. “They said there is a very minor chance of sudden death. Well, it happens—like—one percent of people.” Wind the clock forward to a healthy 20 year-old attending Purdue University. She’s active and energetic, running most mornings to the workout facility from her sorority house. “I never had any issues before. I mean, I definitely had symptoms of the disease but nothing major. So I was doing my normal morning routine, I remember going outside and thinking it was cool. Next I remember waking up in the ICU, trying to get out of my intubation,” Paula says with a laugh.
’m Much Safer Now
Evan Piekara, 24, Queens, N.Y. (2008) Teach for America nearly lost one of their stars. Soon after his 24th birthday, Evan collapsed on the St. John’s University basketball court. This was his first day off after 20 days straight, but it became a longer time-out than planned. That July afternoon, he fell to the ground after a particularly satisfying basket. Everyone stopped and stared. Security was called and brought the AED. Evan had no pulse, wasn’t breathing and was just making a strange gasping sound. The AED could not restore a rhythm. Evan was dying. Fit, healthy and energetic, this young man was slipping away, and yet everything possible was being done to save him.