Registered nurse looks back on life-saving moment at 2017 marathon
By Kirstyn Rossman, R.N., MSN
On October 7, 2017, I was running my first ever marathon, when at mile 15, a man running the opposite direction of me slowed, and then stopped, and then collapsed. You may have heard the story. Dave was provided excellent care from all who touched him: from the paramedics to the cardiac cath team at Legacy Emanuel to the inpatient units. He survived without any deficits, allowing us to reunite twice. It is a rare and uplifting story that I am certain will result in a life-long connection between our two families.
But let me give you some exclusive insider scoop: it was terrifying! When he was on the ground, I ran over and immediately started to yell for help in one of the most highly trafficked areas of the course. Many people continued to run past us. While I have performed CPR before in the controlled, organized setting of the hospital, this experience was not at all similar. When I reflect on the experience and read the statistics that show less than 3 percent of Americans know bystander CPR, I know that the odds are that none or few of those running by would have even known how to help me.
After the story broke, I was amazed to have members of the community reach out to me sharing some part of the story that resonated or affected them. Of these, one of the most profound was a beloved co-worker who shared that when she was 17, her healthy father also experienced a cardiac arrest while running a race. Unfortunately, no one performed bystander CPR and he passed away leaving behind a wife and three young children. It still brings me to tears to think how the outcome might have been different for this incredibly special person had someone on the course known how to try and save his life.
This experience has made me a strong supporter of the American Heart Association and I am so glad Legacy has chosen this organization to support as well. If you are a nurse, no matter what the setting, you have touched someone affected by some form of heart disease.
The most recent statistics are sobering:
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and in the U.S. Roughly a third of all deaths in the U.S. is from cardiovascular disease, which equates to one death every 38 seconds.
About 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, with an estimated annual cost of $329 billion.
Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease — combined.
More than 350,000 people experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) every year. Of these:
- 25 percent had no previous symptoms
- 36.9 percent of cardiac arrest is witnessed by bystanders.
- The majority of OHCA cases occurs at home (69.5 percent)
- The odds of survival of an OHCA is 10.6 percent, and survival with good neurologic function is 8.3 percent
The likelihood of survival decreases 10 percent with each passing minute between collapse and return of spontaneous circulation, which means the time between cardiac arrest onset and the first chest compression is critical.
The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. They aim to “improve the lives of all Americans” by providing public health education in providing CPR training, understanding healthy lifestyle choices, providing science-based treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals, educating policymakers and advocate for changes to improve the health of communities. It is no wonder why Legacy chooses to support AHA each year!
When you consider that one out of three of your loved ones, friends and family will be affected by cardiovascular disease in some form, you can see the urgency in supporting the organization that is working hard to improve this statistic.
You can join any Legacy team (it is free to join!) along with your family and friends to take a beautiful walk along the waterfront on Saturday, June 2, 2018, alongside thousands of people supporting AHA and our community. There will be a survivor course, kids activities, fun booths, and dogs are allowed too! And as a bonus, you can celebrate the end of your walk with a free admission to the City Fair (part of the Rose Festival)!
Visit the Heart Walk website to join in. The website also includes all the details of location, course, and events. I look forward to seeing you all there!
Kirstyn Rossman, R.N., MSN, is an assistant nurse manager for Medical Specialties at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.