Making Ordinary Miracles Happen
David Gliniecki, a 62-year-old retired teacher, tells his story with a spark in his eye, yet he shares the details with a sense of authenticity so that you know from the start it is a very special story. There is also a sense of gratitude in which it is told. And not until the end does one begin to understand how very special his story is.
Gliniecki collapsed while working out at a local health club a few years ago when his heart suddenly stopped in the middle of his workout. Luckily, the health club not only had an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) device, but also required staff to be certified in CPR, and trained in AED operation and first aid techniques.
The health club staff was able to restart Gliniecki’s heart with an AED and started compressions before local EMS arrived less than 10 minutes later.
“I probably would have died if help wasn’t right there, despite how fast the EMS arrived,” Gliniecki says. “In fact, later that day, the doctor took a look at my chart and said to me, ‘So, you’re the lucky one!’”
Gliniecki has since joined the Cardiac Arrest Survival Team (CAST) as a community member and cardiac arrest survivor because, as he says, “I want to say thank you to the people who saved my life. I am here because of them, and I want to help other people survive.”
In 2013, a group of our local medical professionals, first responders and concerned community members set out to increase the survival rate of Portage County residents struck by sudden cardiac arrest. In the fall of that year, CAST was formed and began working with Saint Michael’s Foundation to raise funds in support of this life-saving goal.
Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating properly, resulting in a loss of blood flow to the brain. It is different than a heart attack, but might be caused by one or by an electrical malfunction.
When it comes to cardiac arrest, even five minutes can be too long. The key to restarting a heart is having the right equipment on hand and someone with the right training nearby, wherever it happens.
CAST and Saint Michael’s Foundation have put a priority on placing AEDs in as many public places as possible – churches, workplaces and schools – along with training people how to use them. These devices can restart a heart with a shock delivered through paddles. Restarting the heart before emergency services can arrive makes the difference.
How much of a difference? The national survival rate is just eight percent. Communities that have established programs similar to CAST have dramatically higher survival rates – around 40 percent. For Gliniecki, an AED made the world of a difference.
Saint Michael’s Foundation donors have already contributed to placing eight AEDs in public places in Portage County. The goal is to place five more by the end of 2015. To learn more the CAST Fund or to help support ordinary miracles for someone in our community, visit ministryhealth.org/smhfoundation or call 715.343.3259.
Published April 2015