Posted on 10/25/2015
Survivor Gary Brauchla and rescuer Kathie Brauchla

2015 Nominee – Kathie Brauchla
Survivor – Gary Brauchla, Pearce, Arizona, 68 at time of event (September 29, 2012)
Location of event – Home

If it weren’t for my wife, Kathie Brauchla, September 29, 2012, would have been the date etched on my tombstone. I was asleep in my rural home in Pearce, Arizona, about 90 miles from Tucson when I went into cardiac arrest at age 68. Kathie was awoken by my loud snort, which she assumed then was snoring. In retrospect, it was likely my last gasp. She nudged me. No response. Nudged me again. And again – no response. Then it all clicked together what was going on. She flipped on the light as I lay there motionless, not breathing.

A former surgical technician for 15 years, Kathie immediately started CPR. She knew that ideally, I should be on a hard surface rather than a soft bed. But she’s 120 pounds. Trying to get my 205-pound frame off the bed and onto the floor without hitting my head on nearby nightstands and dressers seemed unfeasible. So she called 911 and sustained the chest compressions, waiting for help to arrive. She pumped my chest, and pumped my chest...fighting through exhaustion and fear of not knowing if I was going to make it. The sound of the diesel engines of emergency vehicles never sounded so good to her. EMS crews used a defibrillator to restore my heart rhythm, after which I was flown by helicopter to Tucson Medical Center.

Doctors put me in therapeutic hyperthermia, induced a coma, which I stayed in for the next 2.5 weeks, and put in some coronary stents to reopen blocked arteries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 380,000 people in the United States experience a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting per year. More than 92 percent of them die. But I was unspeakably fortunate because of my wife’s instantaneous ability to recognize what was going on with me, her quick-thinking actions to get EMS dispatched while starting chest compressions, and her ability to keep a level head during a situation that most people simply would not know how to handle.

Amazingly, I fully recovered and now volunteer in the cardiac department at Tucson Medical Center, offering support to patients and their families during their traumatic time. I participate in cardiac outreach at the state and national level, teach bystander CPR classes, and am a champion for successfully trying to get more AEDs in the rural areas.

Throughout this entire journey, Kathie has been by my side.

Of course, none of this would be possible if she failed to respond like she did on that night. Without a doubt, my wife saved my life. It is for all these reasons that I am honored to submit this nomination for Kathie Brauchla as a recipient of the prestigious People Saving People award.

Nominated by Gary Brauchla