Don’t be fooled by the easy banter between Marv Chidrey, 57, and Ronald L. Clingerman, 62, who have been friends and fishing buddies since they worked at the same bank 20 years ago – “what we do is fishing, not catching,” Marv says. Ron pulled no punches last year when Marv collapsed in cardiac arrest at a University of Michigan football game.
He was on the ground, admittedly fumbling to do chest compressions on an unconscious Marv, when a stadium usher radioed for help and another bystander began CPR. In moments, Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics and U-M medical staff on duty at the stadium used a defibrillator to shock Marv’s heart in to rhythm. He’d had the “widow maker” heart attack, and after transport to U-M Hospital, a catheterization team at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center opened Marv’s blocked heart artery.
“If someone is in cardiac arrest, you just have to remember to do two things,” says Robert Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., U-M’s chair of emergency medicine. “Call 911, and start hands-only CPR, pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest.”
Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, at work or in public die because they don’t get immediate CPR. Bystander CPR can triple a person’s chance of survival, says Neumar, who is leading an effort, called SaveMiHeart, to boost bystander CPR training in the state of Michigan.
Cardiac arrest survivor and grandpa
The near-death episode on Nov. 9, 2013 has re-defined a lot of moments for Marv. “I got a beautiful granddaughter I never would have seen if I hadn’t lived through that. She’s a darling little girl.” He lives with an ICD and underwent cardiac rehab at Allegiance Hospital to get back in shape.
Instead of raking leaves, Marv had gone to the U-M vs. Nebraska game with Ron and their wives. That morning he wasn’t feeling 100 percent, likely experiencing heart attack symptoms which can feel like heartburn or tightness in the chest. If Marv had suffered cardiac arrest at his Concord, Mich., home, he says he would have been in the yard alone.
On any given Saturday, medical teams at the University of Michigan stadium are ready to save a life, but bystanders can make life-saving steps until help arrives, says Neumar.
“Whether in a packed stadium, a grocery story or home, if someone is in cardiac arrest, as a bystander, don’t be afraid. Your quick action can be life-saving,” he says.
Take the next steps
- Watch hands-only CPR in action
- Read about a Notre Dame fan rescued by rivals at the Big House
- Read our Heart of a Hunter blog — “What to do if a buddy goes down.”
Robert Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., is chair of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. He is a renowned expert in brain damage after cardiac arrest and head trauma, and is researching ways to improve the brain’s ability to recover after cardiac arrest and traumatic brain injury. He’s a founding member of SaveMiHeart, a non-profit uniting the community, first responders and the State of Michigan with the mission of improving cardiac arrest survival.
For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.