Paying it forward – Sudden cardiac arrest survivor saves a classmate

Survivors of sudden cardiac arrest usually feel lucky to be alive. Their rescuer was in the right place, at the right time and ready to use their CPR skills to save the victim‘s life.. While the successful outcome of each individual who has come back from the brink is surely something to celebrate, one young recipient of CPR now knows how wonderful it feels to be on the giving side of saving a life.

Tyler Byall was a high school junior in Fort Wayne, Indiana last year when he went into cardiac arrest while asleep. His mother, Kristi Polcsak, immediately performed CPR on him, keeping him alive until paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital. Thanks to Polcsak’s quick action and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) by the paramedics, Byall made a complete recovery.

On September 21, 2011, one year and one day after his own life threatening incident, Byall was wrapping up another normal school day at North Side High School when classmate Abey Luttman was standing near her locker. Luttman went into sudden cardiac arrest and Byall went into action. Byall began CPR on Littman and was assisted by a teacher and others as school nurse Sunny Stachera retrieved the school’s AED. Stachera used the AED, and Littman was soon transported to the hospital, where she was treated and released days later.

Both Byall and Littman were truly blessed to have come through such a life-or-death ordeal. Coincidentally, each of them now has an implanted defibrillator, something that many cardiologists are now employing to make sure that their patients have smooth sailing into the future.

Byall’s story as victim and victor has shed much needed light on how important the immediate and most heroic efforts by bystanders and family members are in saving a life.

In October, the Fort Wayne School Board honored Byall and the others who helped save Littman’s life. And they did it with more than just some words of gratitude and a certificate. The story of survival was brought to the attention of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, Indiana chapter. That acclaimed organization, in recognition of the fast-acting intervention by Byall and his co-rescuers, donated a piece of medical equipment that is worth more than its weight in gold, a Powerheart G3 AED to the Ward Alternative School in Fort Wayne.


Pearl Salkin