My name is Jamie LaLonde, I am 21 years old and at 18 I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while working in the Mall of America.
I was working at Forever 21 and I asked to take my break early which was unusual for me to do, I was on my way to the break room where I would have been alone, when I fainted and started having what looked like a seizure.
Mall security was on the scene very quickly and started giving me CPR when they realized I had no pulse.
Where I was working was located very close to one of the Bloomington Police offices in the mall and a police officer who just happened to be medically trained was there with an AED within five minutes to shock me, twice.
Once I had a pulse the EMTs took me to Fairview Southdale Hospital where I was put in a medically induced coma for 3 days and then transferred to the University of Minnesota hospital where the cardiology department ran test and decided the best course of action was to give me an ICD. After hearing what happened to me I have to admit, I did a lot of googling because I didn't know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest and I didn't know it could happen to anyone.
My biggest health problem before this was the occasional fainting, although I don't have LongQT. After I saw the survival rate I was shocked that I'd never learned much about it before or that the only time I'd ever seen an AED was in Grey's Anatomy on ABC. My friends didn't even understand what happened to me and kept calling it a heart attack.
I feel like more people NEED to be taught what to do and how to tell what's going on, especially young teens.
The people I was working with could have started CPR instead of holding me, because they thought I was having a seizure, I was lucky to be in such a public place with medically trained people so close by but if everyone was that lucky the survival rate could be much higher.
It's important for people to be informed especially about things that can happen to anyone. We had a drunk driving or drugs talk at my high school every quarter... why not add something new that kids don't learn or hear about every day?
If you're going to teach kids that information is power, give them more information. This is why I am and advocate in my state for CPR.
I still keep in close contact with my heroes from the Mall because I work there again. I thank God for them every day and I know how lucky I am to be alive.