Wednesday, February 07, 2001

CPR saves lives

Red Cross offers training

By Peggy O'Farrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Rex Boutelle knows he's lucky to be alive.

        The Anderson Township man was out for his daily run one May day in 1998 when he collapsed.

        Mr. Boutelle, now 45, doesn't know how long he had been unconscious when a passerby found him. The passerby checked his pulse and, finding none, called 911 and began CPR, coached by the dispatcher.

        Two more bystanders, another man and the woman who owned the house Mr. Boutelle fell in front of, came to his aid. The three of them worked to keep his heart beating until paramedics got there and “shocked” it back to its normal beat.

[photo] Patty Ratliff teaches CPR class at the American Red Cross office in Blue Ash.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        On March 3, the American Red Cross hopes to train 1,000 more Tristaters in CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, during its CPR Saturday event. Training will be held in several locations in the Tristate. To register, call 792-4000 or (800) 241-8296, or log on to ( Cost is $10.

        CPR saves lives, Mr. Boutelle says. “I wouldn't be here without it,” he says. “There's no question in anybody's mind that I would not have made it.”

        Mr. Boutelle later learned an electric glitch — ventricular fibrillation — caused his heart to stop beating. He was in a coma for several hours after the incident and still can't remember what happened.

        A quarter of a million Americans die every year from sudden cardiac arrest, what Mr. Boutelle experienced, says Jane Wiehe, first aid/CPR coordinator for the Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

        Training more people in CPR keeps that number from getting higher, Ms. Wiehe says.

        “It's important because it happens so unexpectedly when someone collapses,” she says. “Most of the time, the collapse does occur at home and there is someone there, so everyone can and should learn CPR. We make it simple and easy to learn, and the training time is well worth it.”

        Last year, the American Red Cross taught more than 32,000 Tristaters how to perform CPR through sessions offered in workplaces and community settings, says Ms. Wiehe.

        Mr. Boutelle was less than a block from his house when he collapsed. His wife, Marilyn, heard the ambulance go by and wondered what all the excitement was about. When she got to the scene, Mr. Boutelle had already been taken to the hospital.

        Mr. Boutelle had never had any heart problems until his collapse. While he was in the hospital, surgeons implanted an ICD (internal cardiac defibrillator) to keep his heart functioning properly. The device, which includes a pacemaker, monitors his heart rate. If it starts going too fast or too slow, an alarm sounds. If his heart stops, the device delivers an electric shock to get it started again — “just like the paddles” used by paramedics or doctors — Mr. Boutelle says.

        Mr. Boutelle jogs about 25 miles a week, and the monitor has gone off a couple of times — both times because his heart rate sped up while he was exercising — not because he was having a coronary.

        He plans to run in March in the American Heart Association's Heart Mini-Marathon. This will be his third year participating.

        Incidentally, Mr. Boutelle learned to perform CPR so long ago — he can't quite remember when it was, probably while he was in the Boy Scouts, he says — and he got a refresher course at a previous job.

        He says he's never had to use it. “Thank goodness,” he adds. “I don't think it's anything ever wants to use. But you never know when you'll need it.”


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