His Team Lost, but He Won!
Leo Staudacher hadn’t planned on watching the Michigan-Notre game on television, let alone in a hospital ICU unit. But he was very grateful to have seen the end of the game at all. The 69 year old Bay City man was watching the game at Michigan Stadium when he collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of natural deaths in the United States.
Mr. Staudacher’s three sons were with him at the game, but none of them knew what do. That’s not unusual or shameful – most people aren’t trained in CPR. Thankfully for Leo Staudacher and his family, a nearby spectator knew CPR and began performing it on the unconscious man while others went for help. Stadium security personnel used an Automated Electric Defibrillator (AED) to shock Mr. Staudacher’s heart back into normal rhythm. But it was the bystander who started CPR quickly who made full recovery possible.
Sudden cardiac arrest almost always results in death, unless life-saving measures are begun within six minutes of the event. Even in cities with outstanding emergency medical services, that’s often not possible, meaning the difference between life and death hinges on someone close by knowing CPR. Studies have found the survival rate among heart attack victims increases 300% when CPR is begun within minutes.
Statistically, Leo Staudacher was an anomaly, lying in his Ann Arbor hospital bed, watching the Wolverines score a come-from-behind victory over his beloved Notre Dame. “My family watched while they shocked me with the paddles,” he said later, “but it was the fans and their prompt CPR that saved my life.”
Most of us wonder at times about the meaning of our lives. Anyone who has learned the simple process of CPR and has had the privilege of using it to save another human being can answer that age-old philosophical question. The idea that a few hours of training could lead to years added to someone’s life – years during which incalculable good might be done – is both humbling and compelling. The fact is, there’s nothing that stands between you and me and an act of heroism except learning CPR. How many of the 325,000 Americans who die of sudden cardiac arrest every year would survive if more people knew CPR? Hard to say, but one thing is undeniable: your training could save one person whose life has infinite value.