“I was dead!”
Bill Jamael was playing a game at Casino Nova Scotia. Whether he was winning or not is now moot. As he rose to his feet, he took a few steps away from the table and collapsed to the floor.
A sharp-eyed attendant saw Jamael fall and instantly radioed Ian Flynn, the security chief of the casino and CPR trainer for employees at Casino Nova Scotia. In spite of 35 years training others to save lives, Flynn had never saved anyone using the CPR he taught routinely.
Now was the time.
Flynn was beside the fallen Jamael in minutes, along with two other security staff, Gina Ryan and Bill Monahan.
Bill Jamael had no pulse and was not breathing. He was literally, dead. Ian Flynn began the CPR he had used in training for 35 years. Flynn did chest compressions while Monahan breathed for Jamael. At the same time, Gina Ryan raced to the back of the Casino where the defibrillator was kept.
The three applied the pads to Jamael’s chest. The machine analyzed heart action, and gave the command to shock. The three backed away and pressed the shock button. Volts slammed into Jamael’s heart.
He did not respond.
The machine reset, and again gave mechanical instructions to shock. Nothing. Again, the machine analyzed and gave the order. Again, nothing happened.
By this time ambulances had arrived, but Ian Flynn didn’t give up. He prepared to shock a fourth time. As the fourth shock raced through Jamael’s body, his heart began to beat again.
Cardiac arrest means that, although the heart may be still moving, its rhythm becomes dangerously irregular. Sometimes the heart simply quivers, unable to pump blood into organs or brain. In this context, a person dies in about five minutes. Defibrillation shocks stop fibrillation, or the useless quivering of the heart.
Knowledge of where to place the paddles on the chest is vitally important, as the electrical current must flow through the heart. Immediate defibrillation, even by a bystander who knows little about CPR, can dramatically increase the victim’s chance of survival. This is why Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, have become as common as fire extinguishers, and just as necessary. These machines figure out whether the shock therapy will actually work, because if the heart has stopped entirely, the shock will not bring results. The machine can determine what level of shock to give, if that is appropriate.
Even if a defibrillator is unavailable, persons trained in Hands-Only CPR can save lives. This is the updated version of CPR, where steady, strong compressions (press down six inches!) are used until help arrives. The action pumps vital blood to a victim’s brain. The new version is much simpler than attempting to recall how many breaths and compressions are necessary via the old system at a time of serious stress.
” If someone isn’t doing something to pump blood into the brain until emergency crews get there, the probability of having a good outcome is very low,” said Matthew Levy, medical director of Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.
Bill Jamael can’t recall any of the dramatic efforts to save his life, including his fall or trip to the hospital. He heard all about it from other people.
“I was just amazed!” He exclaimed. Needless to say, he reported being “very pleased over the outcome.”
He presumes he was, for all practical purposes, dead at the moment of collapse. Fortuitously, the casino staff are required to take a CPR refresher course every three years, and Flynn had just offered the required course a couple of weeks before Jamael’s brush with death.
Bill Jamael is thrilled to be alive.
“I’m just elated that these people are so dedicated to life for other people.”
Ian Flynn is being honored for his quick action to save Jamael’s life.