Kent man holds 2nd longest record for CPR survival

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 9:59 AM

KENT, Wash. -- It was May 16th, 2011, out in the foothills of Mount Rainier.

"I was with my buddy Austin and Kierstyn," said Brandon Hopper. "We basically were on a drive out to Greenwater to look at elk. We found some elk and took off running after them to see if we can get some pictures and that's when it happened."

Hopper collapsed in the middle of the woods. The then 19 year old with a congenital heart defect had stopped breathing.

In the middle of the wilderness with no cell reception, one friend ran to call 911, while the other one started CPR.

First responders rushed in and took over compressions. They said he'd occasionally show some sign of life, like a gasp of breath, so they kept going. Then two nurses and pilot from Airlift NW arrived. They shocked him eight times with a defibrillator and the chest compressions continued.

"We pulled out every medication in the bag," said Airlift NW nurse Jane Carew. "We used everything."

They had to get him stabilized before taking off.

"We almost stopped the resuscitation three or four times," said Airlift NW nurse Ann Kellogg, "not thinking this was going to be a survivable event for him. But no one was willing to give up."

Responders called it a "Congo line," as they took turns giving CPR - 86 minutes of it. Brandon's case is believed to be the second longest record of any survivor.

"You basically had providers in the middle of the woods taking turns doing CPR on a patient in the back of an ambulance," said Dr. Rich Utarnachitt, medical director of Airlift NW. "For that period of time, it's an extremely strenuous undertaking."

Brandon woke up at Harborview Medical Center a few days later.

"I just remember lying in the bed, I can't see anything, my eyes are closed at the time," said Hopper. "My dad says don't freak out, but you've had a heart attack, and instantly tears [started running]. It was the first thing I remember."

Hopper spent three weeks in the hospital and now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest.

The now 21 year old works two jobs and lives a normal life with his family. Doctors use his case to teach other medical personnel at workshops and conventions. Hopper says he gratefully accepts the role of being the living poster child on the importance of CPR, pre-hospital care, and swift transport.

"It warms your heart, honestly," he said. "There's no better feeling than thanking someone who saved your life."

It is believed that a man from Minnesota holds the longest record for CPR survival. His was 96 minutes.

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