Posted on 12/16/2021
Rob Hoadley of ZOLL Medical with Al & Trish Hart
Rob Hoadley of ZOLL Medical with Al & Trish Hart

They could have passed by, but they decided to help. Their decision made the difference between life and death. Because of their heroic actions, Juliana and Bill Schirmer have been named winners of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s “People Saving People Award” for saving the life of Al Hart.

Juliana and Bill Schirmer have been named winners of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s “People Saving People Award” for saving the life of Al Hart. The purpose of the award is to increase awareness about the critical need for bystanders to intervene in sudden cardiac emergencies. The award was presented on December 10th in San Diego, California, at the Cardiac Arrest Survival Summit, a biennial conference of the Citizen CPR Foundation.

Sudden cardiac arrest affects about 1,000 people in community settings each day in the U.S. Sadly, only 10 percent of victims survive. Yet, when bystanders take action by calling 911, starting CPR, and using the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED), survival rates can be as high as 30 to 50 percent.

Al Hart’s remarkable rescue occurred on June 15, 2019, in Pleasanton, California. Al is a competitive triathlete and was out on a typical training day. He had completed a one-mile swim and a 50-mile bike ride, and was wrapping up with a 20-minute run. He was just two minutes from finishing, when he suddenly collapsed. His friend, Albert Dyrness, found him and flagged down a passing car. The Schirmers were in that car, and they turned around to help. 

Juliana and Bill, who are both trained in CPR and AED use, understood the vital importance of immediate action in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Juliana called 911 and Bill started chest compressions.

The 911 call activated PulsePoint, an app that alerts CPR-AED trained residents when there is a cardiac emergency nearby. Lifeguards received the alert and rushed to the scene. They used their AED to deliver a shock and provided additional CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

In nominating the Schirmers, Al said, “My miraculous recovery was only possible because of Bill and Juliana’s decision to act. They were the first link in my Chain of Survival. Without them, I would not be alive today.” 

Al was also quick to acknowledge the crucial contributions of first responders Cody and Jason Stearns, and lifeguards Jeremiah Howland, Joseph Jerome, Rafael Ledezma-Villalva, Anthony Nguyen, and McKenna Stevulak. 

In presenting the award, Mary Newman, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, said there were dozens of nominations for the award, and it was a challenge to select just one winner. “In the end," she said, "We decided that Juliana and Bill’s heroic actions perfectly exemplify the critical importance of immediate bystander intervention when sudden cardiac arrest occurs in community settings.”

Newman added that every story is a victory over Sudden Cardiac Arrest. “When people understand the importance of acting quickly and decisively to help victims of sudden cardiac arrest, and they turn that action into a life-saving event, everyone wins.”

Al and Trish Hart accepted the award on behalf of the Schirmers. In addition to the award, Juliana and Bill will receive an AED, donated by ZOLL Medical.

To support Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation initiatives to raise awareness and help save lives, click here.

Watch related video here.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest 
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It strikes people of all ages who may seem to be healthy, even children and teens. When SCA happens, the person collapses and doesn’t respond or breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure. SCA leads to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away. Survival depends on people nearby calling 911, starting CPR, and using an automated external defibrillator, or AED, (if available) as soon as possible.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation 
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Our vision is to eliminate preventable death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest and support people affected by SCA. Our mission is to raise awareness of SCA and promote initiatives that help save lives through education, research, and community. Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a proud co-sponsor of the Call-Push-Shock movement. 

See news release.