Survivor Stories

Survivor Stories

AED Access for All

Mary Tappe, West Des Moines, IA – 43 at time of event (2004)

Mary Tappe

On Monday, May 17, 2004 I was running late to a meeting at work. As I was sitting down, my friend Rick made a smart-alec comment about my being late, I gripped my pen, and BAM, my head hit the desk. My co-workers waited for me to sit up with a retort, but I didn’t. I was not breathing. I had no pulse.

An Opening Day to Remember

Peris Joyner, Seattle, WA – 55 at time of event (2009)

Peris JoynerKing County has a reputation for “saves” that is envied by many in the emergency services community. Peris is aware of this fact, and can testify to its veracity. The retired bank manager and his wife Carlla had decided to check out the new SoundTransit light rail connection to the airport one July weekend.

His Best Round Ended On The15th Tee

Bill Kushubar, Harrisburg, PA –54 at time of event (2009)

Bill Kushubar Bill says he’s not much of a golfer, in fact he doesn’t play anymore. It’s just isn’t the same game for him. He also doesn’t eat breakfast sausages anymore, the last ones were especially cooked on the grill that Sunday morning. But he does stay in touch with his golfing buddies. Especially Charlie.

Charlie Sourbeer had learned CPR 15 years earlier at work. He remembered how to do it, and Bill can testify to that fact.

“On the 15th hole I fell over. My friends thought I was kidding because I hit a bad shot! But then [he] saw I was turning purple. He [Charlie] started CPR, including mouth to mouth,” Bill said with admiration.

Be Strong - Never Give Up

Claire Dunlap, Boynton Beach, FL – 15 at time of event (2009)

Claire Dunlap

The softball team had won that Wednesday afternoon in West Boca High School. Claire, the varsity centerfield starter, was huddled with her team members on right field, talking about the next days practice. She fell over and started to gasp.

"I was turning blue and making snorting sounds," Claire said. "I was trying to get air into my lungs." Her Mom, Patti, was in the stands and didn't know just how serious it was.

Labor Day Miracles

My name is Amy Jones.  I am 37 years old.  September 7, 2009 was the day my life changed forever. The first part of my story will be told from the recollection of others – the story may be incomplete because my husband, who is a major part in this story, does not like to talk about this. It is simply too painful. It is easier for me because I don't remember. I am almost a third party to the entire experience.

Pharmacological Fright

Michelle Bychowsky, Hoboken, NJ – 34 at time of event (2008)

Michelle Bychowsky

Michelle works for Novartis, she trained as a pharmacist, and now manages the drug supply for investigational trials. She was presenting during a meeting on that Wednesday, when she fell forward onto the table in front of her. 911 was called and several colleagues, who were also EMTs, hurried over to assist.
"I'd never met [them before] but now I keep in touch with them," she said.

Leila's Story: Every Life Deserves a Second Chance

On the evening of February 19, 2008, we welcomed our precious Leila Julianna into the world, born with a clean bill of health. We spent the typical three days in the hospital and then came home to settle in. After a busy evening at home, we all fell asleep. You never think when you fall asleep, that when you wake up, your entire life will change. But ours did. I awoke in the night to a chilling silence and a terrible feeling inside.

A Perfect Storm of Good Fortune

Jim Niskanen, Modesto, CA –  (2008)

August 25, 2008 could have been a delightful day for Jim Niskanen. Two days earlier he arrived at the picturesque and luxurious Oglebay Resort and Conference Center outside Wheeling, West Virginia. Oglebay is the largest self-sustaining public resort in the USA, and includes a conference center, three golf courses and a zoo.

I'm Much Safer Now

Evan Piekara, Queens, NY – 24 at time of event (2008)

Teach for America* nearly lost one of their stars. Just one month after his 24th birthday, Evan collapsed on the St John’s University basketball court. He’d had a trying month, 20 days straight without a break, and this was his first day off. It became a longer time-out than planned.

That July afternoon he fell to the ground after a particularly satisfying basket. Everyone stopped and stared. Someone thought to call security. Steve Ptacek arrived in minutes and brought an AED with him. He started CPR since Evan had no pulse, and wasn’t breathing, just making a strange gasping sound. The AED could not restore a rhythm. Evan was dying. Fit, healthy and energetic, this young man was slipping away and yet everything possible was being done to save him.

Laboring to Death

Sonja, California, MD – 30 at time of event (1999)

Sonja has a beautiful 10-year-old son to remind her of the morning she was declared dead. Her pregnancy had been completely normal, until she went in for the delivery of her second son. She thought it was time, but the OB-GYN thought otherwise. The labor was quite intense, such strong pain and yet she was not dilating. She was told to return the next day. During a bathroom visit to get changed, her water broke, so she stayed in the hospital for overnight observation. Lucky they hadn’t sent her home, because at 3:16 am she suffered a cardiac arrest.

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