The recipient of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s People Saving People award is an Illinois teenager named Brendan Gould, who saved his dad’s life with CPR.
Brendan was at home in Barrington with his father, Tom Gould, on Feb. 6, 2016, when Tom suddenly collapsed. Brendan dialed 9-1-1, connecting to CenCom 9-1-1 dispatcher Jeff Callaghan, who quickly determined by Brendan’s description that Tom was unresponsive and not breathing. Callaghan gave prompt and clear instructions to Brendan to pump hard and fast on Tom’s chest, pacing the compressions by counting out loud over the phone.
SCAF President Mary Newman, alongside Foundation volunteer Matt Strauss, presented the award to Brendan on Dec. 8 at the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update (ECCU) in New Orleans.
The audience heard the 9-1-1 call recording from that day. Brendan was remarkably calm when speaking to Callaghan, who says he didn’t realize Brendan was only 16.
“My dad’s lips are turning purple,” Brendan told Callaghan on the recording. “What do I do?”
While Brendan was being instructed to do CPR on his father, his sister Grace went outside to flag down first responders. A police officer arrived and took over CPR from Brendan. Once EMS arrived from the Barrington Fire Department, they shocked Tom five times before his heart began to beat normally again.
Tom spent 11 days in the hospital and was discharged with an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). He said his recovery has gone smoothly and he is as back to normal as he can be. “It’s almost like it never happened,” he told the audience.
As Illinois is one of the 37 states that mandate CPR education as a graduation requirement for high school students, Brendan was actually scheduled to learn CPR at Barrington High School two days after he saved his father. Now Tom and Brendan speak regularly at the high school when students learn CPR.
“Our story gives the students a human angle and shows them knowing CPR can truly make a difference,” Tom said.
Accepting the award, which included a donated AED from ZOLL, Brendan thanked his family and the first responders who continued the chain of survival to save his father’s life. “I love you, dad,” Brendan said.
Laerdal Medical Corporation also provided support for the award.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s website, the “People Saving People award honors ordinary people with extraordinary spirits who have helped save the lives of SCA victims. The purpose of the award is to increase awareness about the critical need for laypersons to be prepared to intervene in sudden cardiac emergencies.”