Dick Bylund – St. Louis, MO – 50 at the time of the event (1993)
Sometimes it’s better to break the rules. If a young paramedic in Freemont, CA, had followed procedures to the letter, Dick Bylund wouldn’t be alive today.
Dick was attending his son’s football game at Mission High School in Freemont when he collapsed, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Two nurses on the scene administered CPR, while a third fan ran to a nearby house to call 911, this being a time before everyone had a cell phone. Fire department personnel arrived within minutes, carrying a manual defibrillator.
“At that time, the protocol was to stop after three shocks,” Dick recalls. Apparently, nobody bothered to tell the young man who applied those shocks or maybe he just didn’t follow orders very well. Either way, Dick considers him a hero because after having no luck on the three shocks that were supposed to be the maximum, the EMT applied two more. The fifth one did the trick and Dick’s heart was beating again.
“I was dead for seven minutes,” Dick says.
After an angioplasty to clear a clogged artery, which seemed to be the cause of the SCA, Dick, who two years earlier had sold the Holter Monitor company which he had owned since 1997, decided it was time to get back into his usual routine.
“I tried to go back to work with Hoffman/La Roche, (a Swiss-based health care corporation) but there was too much brain damage,” he said, noting that the lack of oxygen to the brain caused by the SCA had robbed him of some of his concentration and cognitive skills.
At that, Dick retired and moved with his wife Suzanne to St. Louis, where she got a job at Ascension Health, a national Catholic health ministry sponsored by the daughters of Charity and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
But all has worked out well for Dick since his retirement. He still works as a volunteer with The American Red Cross Disaster Service and St. Louis’s Children’s Hospital and is a vocal advocate for victims of cardiac arrest.
“People need to be aware of what cardiac arrest is,” he said, “they certainly can take a CPR class.”
The only major, lingering setback Dick has experienced because of his SCA?
“I can’t do the ballet anymore,” he says with a chuckle.”
- A.J. Caliendo