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Home > Topics > Survivability

Calif. woman survives heart attack, has 'unbelievable' recovery

The 75-year-old's heartbeat was restored with two defibrillator shocks; she opened her eyes in the ambulance and began talking

By Jamie Hansen
The Press Democrat

PETALUMA, Calif. — A woman suffered a heart attack at the Petaluma Senior Center Wednesday morning that stopped her pulse and breath, only to be resuscitated moments later with the help of a staff member who performed CPR and medics who arrived shortly after, a Petaluma fire official said Thursday.

The woman, 75, had just arrived for a healthy eating and exercise program at the senior center around 10:10 a.m. when she said, "I think I have a problem" and collapsed, said Jeff Schach, a battalion chief in charge of emergency medical services.

Senior Center worker Don Streeper immediately began performing CPR on the woman while other staff members helped out, one of them calling 911, Schach said.

An ambulance was nearby for a demonstration and arrived in three minutes, followed by a fire engine, Schach said.

Medics ended up using a defibrillator two times to restore the woman's heartbeat, which was stopped by a blocked coronary artery, Schach said. Shortly after medics placed her in an ambulance to take her to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the woman opened her eyes and began talking, Schach said.

"That doesn't happen," he said. "It's absolutely unbelievable."

The woman didn't require medical procedures that normally would follow what is known as a "code blue," where a person's heart stops, Schach said. He attributed that to the quick response of senior center staff who gave CPR and the ability of medics to respond quickly. He added that the Fire Department has been pushing for hands-only CPR methods to be taught around town and encouraged more people to take a class.

The woman on Thursday was doing well and able to talk when he called the hospital, Schach said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at or 521-5205.)


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2014 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

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Friday, July 18, 2014 3:34:59 PM Why are these people surprised? if you get to the patients fast this almost always happens

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