April 18, 2008

Positivity: What happened outdoors helped save a life indoors

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Jackson, Wisconsin:

Snow sent runners inside, and they aided man whose heart stopped

Posted: April 13, 2008

There’s an official “chain of survival” for victims of cardiac arrest. Only Gary Jenovai can rightfully count a Good Friday snowstorm as the master link.

The 11.5 inches of snow that fell March 21 likely saved the 61-year-old’s life by driving him inside the Pettit Center for a run the next morning. There, he was fortuitously close to a group of trained lifesavers and within a few hundred feet of a defibrillator used to shock his heart back to a life-sustaining beat.

It’s no wonder the staff at Wisconsin Heart Hospital, where he spent nearly two weeks recovering, dubbed him “miracle boy.”

More important, Jenovai is still around to be called Grandpa Gary.

“I call it a miracle,” his wife, Carol, said Friday from their home in Jackson. “Just everything that came together that made it possible for him to survive.”

Jenovai said he remembered little about his flirtation with death – just that he set his winter coat on the bleachers along the running track inside the Pettit Center, and that he started out to run 3 miles around the oval.

He dropped before finishing the first lap.

Doctors later found that two arteries in his heart were roughly 75% blocked. The impaired blood flow had sent him into cardiac arrest.

Midway through his own run, Dana Schulz, 32, spotted Jenovai and a small group of bystanders just off the southeast corner of the track.

“His face was beet-purple, eyes were open, his pupils were pinpoints,” Schulz said. “When you see a gentleman’s eyes that are open and he’s not responding to anything, you kind of get an eerie feeling knowing that something is really not going right.”

Steve Gamm, another runner turned rescuer, noted a similarly dire appearance.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This guy’s gone,’ ” said Gamm, 56.

Without hesitation, Schulz and Gamm put into practice the cardiopulmonary resuscitation training they had received years ago, Schulz as a group-home director and Gamm as a Milwaukee County lifeguard.

Schulz provided the chest compressions and Gamm breathed into Jenovai’s mouth for two, three, likely four minutes.

As they worked, Paul Golomski raced to retrieve the automatic external defibrillator that the Pettit Center had purchased with donated money just a year ago. It had never been used.

Golomski handed the defibrillator to Norah Johnson, a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Once the pads were attached to Jenovai’s chest, the machine reported that he had no heartbeat.

“So the defibrillator told us to stand by and to push the shock button, and we pushed the shock button,” Schulz said.

Jenovai’s heart began beating.

Paramedics from the West Allis Fire Department arrived moments later, roughly six minutes after they received an emergency call at 9:24 a.m., according to Assistant Chief Steve Bane, the director of emergency medical operations.

Bane said the actions of Gamm, Johnson, Schulz and Golomski in those six minutes saved Jenovai’s life. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

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