Cardiac arrest survivor thanks fellow gym member who saved his life

AUSTIN (KXAN) — About 360,000 Americans will suffer cardiac arrest this year outside of a hospital, and only 10 percent of them will survive the attack. One Austin man who did survive had a chance Thursday to meet and thank the nurse who saved his life. It was his good fortune she and a defibrillator were close by when he collapsed during a workout.

Wally Scott III, 59, a local real estate developer, was doing his usual spinning workout downtown about a month ago when suddenly he wasn’t dead tired, he was just dead.

“I was out. It was a split second, and I was out,” he said. “I was on the bike, and then you are out.”

He was clinically dead — no blood to the brain, no heartbeat. Fortunately, Janice Meredith, a registered nurse who graduated exactly one year ago, was exercising next to Scott, and a defibrillator was nearby. Meredith, an RN at Seton Medical Center in Kyle, had trained on a defibrillator but never used one for real.

“We shocked him and continued CPR until there was another rhythm analysis,” said Meredith. “There was no shock advised. We felt for a pulse, and there was a pulse. And we saved his life.”

Scott remembered regaining consciousness, adding, “I do remember gasping for air, trying to breathe and thrashing around a lot — trying to live.”

He was rushed to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where a stent was implanted in his heart.

“When someone has an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the vast majority of them don’t do very well — mainly because they don’t get their heart rhythm restored quickly,” explained Dr. Matt Rogers, a cardiologist at UMC Brackenridge.

When Scott and Meredith met again Thursday, thank yous were exchanged. They are partners now in the gym and in life.

“I am very thankful for her having the quick reaction, having the courage and knowledge to be in charge of the defibrillator,” he said. “A lot of people are afraid to do that.”

“It was a blessing we had these skills, that we were able to assist him,” Meredith added. “I’m excited to see him and very happy he made it.”

In Texas, defibrillators are required in schools and nursing homes. Anyone operating one must be professionally trained and maintain the device in working order. Anyone with a defibrillator must notify local emergency services they have it and notify those services if it is ever used. There is a Good Samaritan provision in the law protecting anyone from a civil suit if they use one in a crisis in good faith, without willful negligence.

Scott said he intends to get a few.

“I am going to buy one for my home and buy one for the office — not for me but for anyone else that happens to need it.”

Because as he learned, you just never know.

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