6 Why CARES Matters: A Story of Survival from OHCA At CARES, we focus on systemized data collection to measure and benchmark out-of-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes to improve care and survival. The data are crucial in helping create more human stories like this one. Rick and Jennifer Chap from Orlando, Florida, share their inspiring story of survival and put the human face on our mission. Their story illustrates the importance of each link in the “Chain of Survival”– early recognition and access to care, early CPR, early defibrillation, rapid delivery of EMS care, and early post-resuscitative care. A Perfect (or “Purrfect”) Chain of Survival The Chain of Survival has five parts. But, Rick’s chain had a 6th link, the Chap family’s beloved cat Buddy. It’s February 27, 2012 and a typical Monday morning. Rick and Jennifer Chap work from their home in Orlando. Rick is in the kitchen getting coffee, and Jennifer is in her home office with Buddy. She’s on a conference call with a client, so the door is closed. Suddenly Buddy begins meowing, jumping and scratching unusually to get Jennifer’s attention. Fortunately, he does. Jennifer picks up Buddy and takes him out of the room only to find the source of Buddy’s concern. Rick is collapsed on the kitchen floor, unresponsive and gasping for air as if in a seizure. Phone still in hand, Jennifer immediately dials 911, opening a life-line to dispatcher Kevin Sealey of the Orlando Fire Department. Kevin is diagnostician, communicator, coach and will become Jennifer’s hero. They instantly become a team. Kevin works quickly to get the facts and help on the way. Jennifer doesn’t know it yet, but Rick is in sudden cardiac arrest. His heart is not beating. He is not breathing. He is clinically dead. “I’m losing him, I’m losing him!” Jennifer yells. And to her horror, Rick takes his final agonizing breath in her arms. As fear turns to dread, she realizes Rick needs CPR. Kevin immediately tells Jennifer what to do, where to press, how deep to press and how fast to press. And, he says one more thing that she will never forget, “You need to be prepared to do 600 compressions.” Jennifer takes a deep breath and begins to push hard and fast in the center of Rick’s chest to the beat of Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”—a surrealistic musical trip through time, when time is all that matters. She pushes and pushes until her body almost abandons her will, losing count after 300 compressions. Throughout, Kevin is on the other end of the line calmly empowering Jennifer to keep going. For what seemed like forever but was only minutes, Jennifer was Rick’s heartbeat, helping to buy precious time until EMS could get there to restore life. At the brink of exhaustion, the six-man crew of OFD Station 6, shift B led by Lt. Trent Johnston arrives. EMS takes over in perfect harmony, each performing a focused and specific task to help save Rick. Jennifer backs away as if in a faraway dream-state, her eyes not comprehending what she is seeing. Rick is blue. They continue CPR and quickly place their AED pads. It is as if she is watching a movie, but this is far from make believe. This is horribly real. Jennifer hears, “Clear!” Silence. Then miraculously, “We got a heartbeat.” Rick is alive. Still unconscious, pulseless and not breathing, Rick is intubated and whisked away. OFD fire-based transport provides continuity of care all the way to Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), a level 1 trauma hospital. At the ORMC Emergency Department, Rick is attended by a 20+ person team all focused on saving his life. Jennifer is told he is in critical condition and the next 24 hours are crucial. Rick is put into therapeutic hypothermia to protect his brain and moved to the ICU. He receives amazing advanced medical care from an incredible and compassionate team of doctors, nurses and support staff. And Jennifer receives support from hospital clergy, family and friends. The wait is almost unbearable, but the medical team is hopeful. On day 3 Rick is warmed, and on day 4 he is awake and extubated. And Jennifer gets her first kiss! Rick has survived OHCA and is one of the less than 10% who survive. A stent in his left anterior descending artery, 11 days in the hospital and a year of cardiac rehab, Rick is alive to share his side of the story.