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How CPR administered immediately saved a man’s life after cardiac arrest

BLS CPR administered at the right moment can save a man’s life
CPR administered at the right moment can save a man’s life

Will Treinen isn't the type to watch from the sidelines. The 51-year-old businessman gave up numerous nights and weekends to establish a prosperous consulting firm in Olympia, Washington. Will and his wife Denise enjoy hiking, rock climbing, riding, and spending time with their two grown daughters and two young grandchildren when they are not working.

The couple rode the STP in 2017, a two-day journey from Seattle to Portland. It will feel wonderful the first day. However, early in their ride the following morning, due to tiredness, he was unable to breathe.

He suspected sports-related asthma because it had previously happened while training and pushed Denise to ride ahead. Will was on the ground and surrounded by bikers when she returned to him a little while later. He was struggling for air and had blue skin.

Fortunately, Madeline Dahl, a Seattle cardiac nurse who was traveling on the STP with her father at the time and was 24 years old, arrived on the scene. She felt for Will's pulse but couldn't detect it, so she started chest compressions.

The American Heart Association estimates that 90 percent of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital pass away. CPR, however, if administered right away, can increase survival rates by a factor of two to three. Madeline gave CPR for several minutes until the paramedics arrived.

Will's pulse quickly came back before slipping out once more. When Madeline stopped administering CPR, the paramedics took over and continued to shock Will with a defibrillator while the ambulance drove to the hospital.

He underwent open heart surgery to treat an 80 to 90 percent blockage in his major coronary artery eight days later, and when he woke in the Tacoma hospital, that was the first thing he distinctly recalls. He had tubes sticking out of his abdomen, and the drugs were making him feel groggy.

Will had few obvious risk factors, despite the fact that his father had died of heart disease. He did not smoke, unlike his father, and his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were not deemed to be concerning by medical professionals.

He thought about his mortality while by himself at night.

Will's experience has inspired him to spread the word about the value of CPR. He gave a speech at the Tacoma AHA chapter's annual executive brunch earlier this year, and he organized a team for the September 22nd South Sound Heart & Stroke Walk.

In fact, Will and Denise accomplished a long-standing goal by hiking to the 4,000-foot summit of Mount Rose in Washington State less than four months after Will suffered his cardiac arrest. And Will and Denise ran the STP again the following year, a year after Will's life almost ended during the STP race. Will stopped after the first day due to knee problems, but Denise persisted and finished, pausing for a tearful moment close to mile 115, the location of the life-altering event.

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