Location of Event – Home
I was having a conversation with my son Brendan, on February 6, 2016, at 5:30 pm. In mid-sentence, and with no warning signs, I collapsed onto the floor of my son’s bedroom. Brendan, then 16 years of age, recognized immediately that my gurgling noises, a lack of response to his questions, as well as my face and neck turning an unusual purple color, meant I was in real trouble.
Brendan picked up the phone and dialed 911. After describing the situation to him, the dispatcher told Brendan he would need to begin CPR on me.
While Brendan was doing CPR, he was also directing his younger sister Grace to remain downstairs and to be on the lookout for first responders. Grace's actions were crucial from a time perpective, as the first police officer on the scene was about to drive past our home, and she would have, but for Grace's actions in flagging down that officer.
Unfortunately, Brendan didn't know CPR at the time. Ironically, he was to begin CPR training at his school the following Monday, but that fact was of no help at this point.
The 911 dispatcher instructed Brendan in giving me CPR until a police officer arrived at our house, perhaps three minutes later. When you listen to the 911 call, which is publicly available, you hear a calm teenager taking direction in a challenging, emotional period of life. Indeed, the 911 dispatcher's words speak volumes of Brendan that night: “I thought I was talking to an adult. We don't get adults talking like he was. He was amazing, no panicking."
In the aftermath of my arrest, and during my recovery, there was a good deal of press about our experience, and the focus of much of that coverage was on my son's calm demeanor the night while he worked on me.
Brendan and I have been able to leverage that publicity at his high school. Together, we have spoken to some 450 fellow students, telling our life-saving story. We believe that the students, seeing a fellow student tell his story, makes a mandated course a bit more real and interesting for the students. We have entertained some interesting questions from the students after our presentations, so we believe that we have succeeded in making our point as to the importance of taking CPR-AED training seriously.
A student at the school, who heard our talk, produced a four-minute video of our story that is in use during the current school year's CPR curriculum. We are told this video will be used for years to come in the school, and Brendan and I are welcome back anytime to retell our story.
Brendan is my hero, my daughter's hero, and my wife's hero for staying calm, cool, and collected during an extremely difficult situation. I am happy to say our story has had an impact in our community. My sincere hope is that our story has impacted someone to take CPR training seriously, or, at the very least, take his or her cardiac health more seriously.
Listen to the 911 call here.
Nominated by Thomas Gould