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‘Miracle workout’ saves Whatcom County man in cardiac arrest

"If it was gonna happen, it happened in the right place at the right time."

LYNDEN, Wash. — It was just another Saturday at CrossFit i1uvit in Lynden. But little did the class know they were just getting warmed up. Rhett Bowlden was on the rowing machine when he started feeling lightheaded.

"The next thing I know is they're giving me chest compressions,” Bowlden said.

Bowlden was unconscious, had no pulse, and was in cardiac arrest. Fortunately, the owner of the gym is a Seattle firefighter and knew exactly what to do.

"I kinda went into immediate 911 mode," owner Matt Lovelady explained.

Lovelady had recently purchased a portable defibrillator and connected it to Bowlden. 

As luck would have it, Jasmine Beede, a cardiac nurse at PeaceHealth Saint Joseph Medical Center had decided to take the class that Saturday, something she normally doesn't do. Beede assisted with CPR while others directed paramedics to the gym.

"It just felt like a dance where we all knew our parts and communicated and talked while we were doing it," Beede said. "The timing of it all was really beautiful."

Bowlden is already back at the gym wearing a portable defibrillator that monitors his heart rhythm. His doctor said the attack would've happened that day, regardless if he was at the gym or not.

"If it was gonna happen, it happened in the right place at the right time," Bowlden said.

The husband and father of two is grateful that the medical emergency happened while he was at the gym. Only his two kids were home at the time.

"If it happened [at home], who knows how long until they found me? The kids might have just thought I was sleeping. It definitely would've been a different ending to the story, I think. I consider it a miracle,” Bowlden said.

The moral of the story? Perhaps it's, "go to the gym more often. Not only is it good for your health, it just might save your life."

However, Beede and Lovelady are more practical. They want to use the opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of having a portable defibrillator at your workplace and knowing CPR.

"It saves lives," Lovelady said. "It did in this case.