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Medic stresses the importance of Chain of Survival

Firefighter Mike Hilley and Becky Cole talk with Becky’s son Ryan at last week’s event; Becky was pregnant with Ryan when she collapsed from cardiac arrest in 2010. - Courtesy photo
Firefighter Mike Hilley and Becky Cole talk with Becky’s son Ryan at last week’s event; Becky was pregnant with Ryan when she collapsed from cardiac arrest in 2010.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

On the evening of May 19, 2011, Karen McClure went for her usual after-work walk along the Power Line Trail in Redmond.

This time, however, the walk was anything but usual.

“I didn’t come home,” the 24-year Redmond resident said.

This was because McClure, now 54, went into cardiac arrest and collapsed onto the ground.

Fortunately, two men — Nishant Kumar and Ruchir Astavans — walking along the trail found her and immediately called 911. Neither was trained in CPR but the dispatcher talked one of them through the process over the phone, while the other man went to one of the trail’s entrances to direct first responders to their location.

Skip Boylan, a paramedic with the Redmond Fire Department (RFD) and lead paramedic on McClure’s call, said Kumar and Astavans’ fast acting to call 911 and perform CPR was the first link in the Chain of Survival, an American Heart Association term describing the elements of the emergency cardiovascular care systems concept. The chain includes immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system, early CPR with an emphasis on chest compressions, rapid defibrillation, effective advanced life support and integrated post-cardiac arrest care.

“A chain can’t be a chain without each individual link having its strength,” Boylan said, adding that McClure’s scenario was a glaring example of how well the Chain of Survival can work.

He said in his opinion, the most important links in the chain are early recognition and citizens performing CPR as they get things started before the EMTs and paramedics arrive and perform other procedures such as intubating and shocking the patient.

RFD is part of King County’s Medic One program and serves all of northeast King County.

Last week, the Medic One Foundation — which funds paramedic training for all Medic One providers in King County, as well as many communities throughout the Puget Sound region — held a community event to raise money and awareness for its work at King County Fire District 34 in Redmond. The event featured CPR and resuscitation demonstrations.

McClure attended the event along with Becky Cole, a Woodinville resident who collapsed and had a seizure when she was nine months pregnant three years ago. Cole had lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Her husband called 911 and performed CPR until Medic One paramedics arrived and were able to stabilize her.

Mike Hilley, an RFD firefighter, said the City of Redmond offers CPR training to citizens through the Redmond Ready program and the Citizens Corps. throughout the year. The next Redmond Ready Day is Feb. 22 and will feature a CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) course. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Redmond Police Department at 8701 160th Ave. N.E. The cost is $25 and people can register online at www2.redmond.gov/econnect, using course 49198.

After her near-death experience, McClure is now a firm believer in being prepared, becoming trained in CPR and knows the importance of knowing what to do.

“You can really make a huge difference,” she said, “which affects not just one person, but everyone that cares about them.”

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