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CPR training crucial knowing anyone can have a heart condition at any time

BLS CPR on woman
BLS CPR training crucial to saving people's lives

On April 24, 2010, Jill Hisey, a 44-year-old mother of three active children in Arcadia, California, had a busy Saturday.

At 8:15 a.m., she dropped off her daughter Allie, 13, at a pancake breakfast before going to a tee-ball game for her son Jackson, 5, and a baseball game for her son Trent, 10.

Jill typically sat in the stands as her husband Steve coached Trent's squad from the field. But on this particular Saturday, she walked to the dugout to assist Trent in adjusting the catcher's equipment. Her head began to hurt suddenly, and she fell to the ground.

She had to learn about the rest afterwards. Jill had stopped breathing and experienced an abrupt cardiac arrest. Trent yelled for assistance.

While others dialed 911, Sue Selinske, a friend, and Mary "Francy" Lesh and Matthew Breda, strangers, hurried to attempt CPR. Before paramedics arrived, they waited for 4 minutes.

Jill's heart was shocked four times with an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restore rhythm. Jill had therapeutic hypothermia at a nearby hospital while she was unconscious. This treatment involves cooling the body to protect the brain and increase survival.

Jill was the second patient at that hospital to receive this care; the first had only done so the day prior. It was the only hospital in the region at the time to use the American Heart Association-recommended treatment.

A day later, health doctors started bringing Jill's body temperature back to normal. She started to reply as well. Her short-term memory needed roughly a day to fully recover. Later, doctors claimed that her brain function had been preserved thanks to the hypothermia protocol.

After Jill regained consciousness, doctors performed an angiography to investigate the cause of her sudden cardiac arrest because she had never had any risk indicators for heart disease. They inserted a device that serves as both a pacemaker and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator because they could not find any plaque or blockages and concluded the problem was electrical (arrhythmia).

Jill returned home nine days later.

Jill is conscious of how lucky she was that Sue, Francy, and Matthew attended the game.

Francy didn't know Jill or her family, and she lived an hour away. Matthew, a 17-year-old boy, had completed his CPR training a week earlier as a part of his lifeguard certification.

Allie, Jill's now-17-year-old daughter, also got involved by setting up CPR training to fulfill the requirements for her Girl Scout Gold Award. In May 2011, Allie secured funding from neighborhood companies, volunteer trainers, and training sessions for 300 teenagers in the neighborhood in collaboration with Methodist Hospital and the neighborhood fire department.

Additionally, the family campaigned to have AEDs put in the neighborhood high school. The installation of AEDs at the neighborhood high school added to the CPR awareness.

Jill Hisey and her family paid a visit to the firefighters that contributed to her survival.

Doctors are still searching for the cause of Jill's heart arrest. She had a lot to learn after her encounter because she didn't know anyone her age with cardiac problems. She visits a cardiologist yearly and takes a low-dose blood pressure medication.

Jill continues to struggle with conflicted feelings in relation to her event, ranging from regret that she lived when many others did not to skepticism that it actually happened to her.

The fact that she is still volunteering contributes to her emotional recovery. She has spoken at fundraising events, served on the hospital's cardiac board, and may be seen in an American Heart Association thank-you video.

She wants people to be aware that anyone can experience a heart condition and that learning CPR is crucial.

"I was powerless to intervene. I already ate well and exercised," she claimed. This only serves to highlight how crucial it is to have people who are educated about CPR and aren't scared to provide their assistance.

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