RICHMOND, VA, – Richmond resident Keith Chapman, age 46, experienced the quintessential Chain of Survival earlier this year after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. Happily, he lived to meet and thank all of those who had a hand in saving him.
The joyful reunion was held at the Richmond Ambulance Authority on June 8 where they recounted the precise chain of events on that fateful February day and celebrated the importance of immediate CPR.
Keith Chapman, director of biomedical engineering at MCV, had recently finished a round of intensive chemotherapy in his bout with leukemia (now in remission) and was not feeling well the week of February 13. On Friday, February 17, he and his wife, Blake, had been to the doctor and stopped at the grocery store on the way home. As she was unloading the groceries, he went to his chair, and she heard a loud sound like a stack of phone books hitting the floor.
“Thank goodness I fell out of the chair so my wife heard me,” said Keith. “She realized something was really wrong, called 9-1-1 and started doing CPR almost immediately. If it hadn’t been for her starting chest compressions so quickly and continuing until the EMTs arrived, I wouldn’t be here now.”
Blake Chapman, an instructional support specialist at a local school and mother of an 8-year-old with congenital heart disease, had taken several CPR training courses in the past and familiarity with the process helped her react quickly.
“I knew that every second counted for Keith. There is such a limited timeframe when the heart stops before brain damage and death. Without a doubt, the knowledge I had from my past CPR training allowed me to hit the ground running that morning,” said Blake.
Chip Decker, CEO of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, commented, “Mrs. Chapman is to be commended for her actions that day. She did all the right things quickly. She called 9-1-1, the first step in the Chain of Survival, and then performed effective CPR until medical help arrived.”
Richmond Fire delivered basic life support, including the first defibrillating shock to Mr. Chapman. Richmond Ambulance Authority delivered two more shocks, as well as advanced life support treatment. RAA medics then initiated cooled saline inducing therapeutic hypothermia before transporting to VCU's Advanced Resuscitation Cooling Therapeutics and Intensive Care (ARCTIC) program. This multidisciplinary program serves as a region-wide referral center for post-cardiac arrest patients with a goal of lowering the patient’s body temperature as quickly as possible and stabilizing physiological functions to reduce the damage to the brain and other vital organs.
“The patient must still be viable when EMTs arrive on the scene of a sudden cardiac arrest or the advanced medical treatments we provide in the field and hospitals like VCU provide on the back end never come into play. That’s why citizen CPR is so important,” continued Decker.
On Friday, June 15, Richmond Ambulance Authority and its numerous partners on the Central Virginia CPR Council kicked off the Great Days of CPR, the largest CPR training event the region has ever seen. Over three days, trained instructors will teach FREE Hands-Only CPR classes to anyone who wishes to attend.
“If you’ve never had a CPR training course, you should take a class. If you have had CPR training, we would highly recommend a refresher course,” said the Chapmans. “You never know when you’re going to need that knowledge. Statistics show that 4 out of 5 cardiac arrests happen in the home just like it did with us. No question, everyone should know how to perform CPR.”