SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Dave Schroeder never dreamed his morning surfing would end with him in the hospital and on the six o’clock news, but thanks to attempted CPR from his friend, Schroeder can tell his story.
CPR is one of the most important skills you can learn. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a person in cardiac arrest who receives CPR from a bystander is twice as likely to be alive a month later than someone who did not.
“It’s a miracle, it really is, and I am blessed beyond belief to still be standing here, to go back out and surf with my friends and be able to take my kids to school in the morning,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder and his buddy, Jesse Hindman, were coming in from an hour of surfing. When Hindman saw Schroeder collapse on the rocks and get washed back into the surf. Hindman got to him in just a couple of minutes and started giving rescue breaths, even though he doesn’t know CPR.
“I’m basically sitting there waist high in water with him and there’s nothing else I could really think of than try to do that,” Hindman said.
Officer Matt Alvernaz with the San Diego Police Department and his partner happened to be a block away and were there in less than two minutes to help bystanders pull Schroeder out of the waves. Moments later, lifeguards and firefighters joined the rescue effort.
“It was just amazing," Alvernaz said. "Everyone did their jobs. Everyone knew what to do. Everyone took direction as needed. No one argued and everyone, all we cared about was, ‘Let’s save this guy.’“
When an AED got Schroeder’s heart beating again, a helicopter took him to the trauma unit at UCSD’s Hillcrest Hospital, where Dr. Allison Berndtson, assistant clinical professor at the division of trauma was waiting.
She gave a lot of credit to first responders for Schroeder’s survival.
“Despite the fact that he had needed CPR in the field and had been pulseless for 10 minutes before he arrived here, that he has completely recovered and doesn't have any deficits, which we don’t see very often,” Berndtson said.
Besides nearly drowning that day, Schroeder learned a 90 percent blockage in an artery to his heart is what caused him to pass out.
“Life is a pretty good thing, and take whatever steps you need to prolong that,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder has a family history of heart disease. He now urges everyone to talk to their families and doctors to find out about their families’ health history. He said a couple of friends have already learned about risk factors they didn’t know about.
Berndtson also encourages everyone to get CPR certified. CPR has been simplified, and courses are offered by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and many community organizations.