Alan Langman, Marc Goyette and Tim Dewhurst have been playing soccer together recreationally for more than 10 years.
The trio plays year round on 40-50 fields throughout the Puget Sound area so when the three of them prepared to play a game on Sept. 22 at Hartman Park in Redmond, things were no different.
But about 30 minutes into the game, Goyette saw Langman go down. Langman’s knees buckled and when he fell, Goyette said he did nothing to protect himself, so he knew something was wrong.
Langman, a 60-year-old Mercer Island resident, had gone into sudden cardiac arrest.
Goyette, also from Mercer Island, yelled for Dewhurst and others to help Langman while he ran to the sidelines to grab his bag, which contained an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Dewhurst, who lives in West Seattle, and the game’s referee began CPR. When Goyette reached them, Dewhurst set up the AED to deliver a shock, which resuscitated Langman.
Dewhurst and Goyette said this probably took about three minutes.
“It was pretty quick,” Dewhurst said about the event.
Despite his day job as a cardiologist, Dewhurst said he has never been in a situation in which he has had to perform CPR or use an AED. He usually sees patients after they have experienced such an event. But when Langman collapsed, Dewhurst said his CPR training just kicked in.
“It was just reflex taking over,” he said.
Someone else had called 911 and paramedics arrived on the scene within minutes. Langman had already regained consciousness by then.
PAYING IT BACK
While civilian cardiac arrest saves are not unique, Langman’s survival story does have an unusual twist.
This is because about 10 years ago, he was the one performing CPR to save someone else’s life after they had gone into sudden cardiac arrest during a soccer game.
That other person was Goyette.
At that time, Langman and a referee performed CPR on Goyette for about 15 minutes while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
Goyette said doctors put him in an induced coma for 10 days and during that time, they told his wife that they were not sure if he would have any brain damage, and if so, how much. Goyette’s short-term memory was greatly affected at first, but after a few years, his brain cells recovered and his memory is back to normal.
This experience led Goyette to go back to his then-teammates to chip in together to purchase an AED to have on-hand at games in case someone else went into cardiac arrest like he did.
And someone did.
For Goyette, being able to “pay it back” and help save the life of someone who helped save his was great. In addition, he emailed his then-teammates to let them know about what had happened to Langman and that the other man would be OK. Goyette said they were pleased that they were also able to help save Langman’s life through their contributions to pay for the AED.
“Obviously it feels great to be alive and it continues to feel that Marc and I are in a modern version of a fairy tale,” Langman said about the fact that Goyette helped save his life.
Langman said he did not notice anything unusual prior to his cardiac arrest.
“I was playing soccer with my teammates, we were ahead by several goals and I felt fine,” he said.
In addition to encouraging his teammates to raise money together to purchase an AED for their team, Goyette is working actively to have more sports teams to do the same.
“It’s a small thing to do to save a life,” he said.
AEDs cost around $1,200, but if team members pool their funds together to pay for one, they can be more affordable, Goyette said.
As a board member of the Greater Seattle Soccer League (GSSL), Goyette has motioned for the organization to implement a program to address cardiac arrests and heart attacks as well as concussions.
Dewhurst, who became Goyette’s cardiologist after his cardiac arrest in 2006, also stressed the importance of having AEDs available in more public spaces since many older people in the Seattle area are active outdoors.
He also recommended a mobile app called PulsePoint AED, which allows users to locate registered AEDs in their community. PulsePoint also offers an app that allows users to register for if they are CPR trained.
AEDs in public spaces are located in emergency boxes and designated with a blue light.
While AED availability in public spaces can help, Goyette noted that unless people know where they are located, it may take them too long to find the device in the case of an emergency. He said this is why he encourages sports teams to have their own AEDs on hand, adding that GSSL offers teams in their league rebates who purchase the device.