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Kerr’s emotions flow when meeting people who came to his aid after heart attack | SLIDESHOW
When a person experiences a medical emergency, there is a time gap from the time it happens, to when someone calls 911, to when first responders arrive on the scene.
In the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, that time gap can be all it takes before an individual sustains a brain injury from lack of oxygen. Redmond Fire Department (RFD) paramedic Doug Scheaffer said it takes just 4-6 minutes before a brain injury can occur, but the use of CPR can greatly reduce this risk.
On March 30, Scheaffer was one of several first responders in Redmond who saw firsthand the importance of CPR following a heart-related medical emergency.
That morning, 59-year-old Dan Kerr of Woodinville had a heart attack while driving along Avondale Road Northeast. He survived thanks to the quick response of four community members and their ability to provide CPR until first responders arrived.
Just a few days after the event, Kerr was out of the hospital. Within a week, he visited Redmond Fire Station 11, one of the stations that responded to the scene, to thank the firefighters and paramedics who worked on him.
On Wednesday, Kerr visited Fire Station 16, the other station that responded to the call, and met some of the other first responders who worked on him as well as three of the four civilians who called 911 and performed CPR on him.
It was an emotional event for Kerr when he met Kristyn Brown, Lance Traicoff and Erik von Fuchs (Matthew Gallagher, the fourth civilian who came to Kerr’s aid was out of town at the time and could not attend).
“I want you guys to know that my chest really hurts — it’s a good hurt,” Kerr told his rescuers when he met them.
The meeting was emotional for Brown, Traicoff and von Fuchs, as well, as following the event, they did not know if Kerr had survived that day.
“I was shaking,” von Fuchs said as he recalls his response to the events in late March.
Von Fuchs and Gallagher were the first to arrive at Kerr’s truck after he went into cardiac arrest. Von Fuchs said he remembers seeing the vehicle going through the intersection of Avondale Road and Northeast Union Hill Road at about 5 mph, looking at the driver and realizing something was wrong. He parked his vehicle in the nearby Aegis Living parking lot and then ran to Kerr’s truck to help, along with Gallagher.
Brown and Traicoff arrived on the scene shortly after and it was Brown — a veterinarian — who initiated CPR. She said they practice CPR at her clinic and so she had some experience. And even though she wasn’t sure what type of medical episode Kerr had experienced, she said starting CPR couldn’t hurt.
“We had nothing to lose,” she said.
For Kerr, all he had to lose was his life, so he is very grateful to the four citizens who came to his aid.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “What do you say to people that save your life except ‘Thank you?’”
Members of Kerr’s extended family were also in attendance to thank both the civilian rescuers as well as the first responders.
Kerr added that the heart attack was caused by a clogged artery, but he has not had any sort of heart issues prior to this. He will go back for a followup check up with doctors in about three months.
In addition to meeting Kerr for the first time after his heart attack, Brown, Traicoff and von Fuchs were presented with a special medal from RFD for their efforts on Wednesday. Gallagher is set to meet Kerr and receive his medal next week.
Fire Chief Tommy Smith was on hand to present them with the medal. He said they couldn’t have scripted the situation more perfectly, saying the four civilians’ role in the emergency was “absolutely priceless.”
“You can’t put a dollar sign on that,” Smith said about saving Kerr’s life.