Last month in Burien, Washington, Gary Hartman was happily enjoying his Highline High School 40th reunion with classmates when suddenly he collapsed headlong into the appetizer table. Cardiac arrest was happening to him. He was fortunate to be surrounded by friends who moved promptly to help.
"I never anticipated it. I was talking to my friends one minute, and then I was gone the next," recalls Gary.
Gary was lowered to the ground by Jeff Harris, Tricia Anderson, and other classmates. Tricia gave the order to dial 911 and locate an AED. As Jeff began performing CPR, Tricia gave the order to dial 911 and locate an AED.
Because there wasn't an AED nearby, Jeff had to keep performing compressions until assistance arrived. When the paramedics arrived, they gave Gary a shock that caused his heart to beat again. Before Gary started yelling at them, his friends weren't sure if their efforts had been successful.
"Until I heard Jeff's voice and saw the badge on the paramedic's outfit, I had no idea what was happening!" Gary responds, "I guess I came back fighting.
He was brought to the hospital without incident, where he later underwent a quadruple bypass.
"Most people who need a quadruple bypass are not as lucky. Gary was fortunate to have friends close by who were capable of providing him with the assistance he needed, according to Jeff.
Through her company, Abbott Construction, Tricia had just completed First Aid training. The business mandates that staff keep their safety knowledge up to date. As a sponsor of the American Heart Association's Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk and a supporter of the organization's community CPR training initiatives, Abbott gave CPR Anytime kits to a nearby hospital as a gift. They were delivered by Tricia a week before Gary passed away. She had no idea that a week later, she would be using her CPR training in actual situations.
"Everyone at the reunion found it to be an eye-opening event. Nobody anticipated hearing that it could happen to any of us at any time, according to Jeff.