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Saving a life

A Party to Remember for a Local Resident and an El Camino Health Employee

They say that in life, timing is everything. For San Jose's Ed Wasnioski, that old axiom proved to be very true last month at a party in Mountain View.

Ed, who is 69 years old, was at a Cinco de Mayo party celebrating the recovery of a friend who had beat cancer. Also at the party that day was Julee Arbuckle, R.N., clinical manager of El Camino Health's Cardiac and Pulmonary Wellness. While Ed and Julee did not know each other prior to attending the party, Ed, who had been having some health concerns, was introduced to Julee by another party attendee.

Julee and Ed

"Ed filled me in on some of the health issues he was having, and I told him he needed to see a cardiologist and, if he was experiencing life-threatening symptoms, to go the emergency room immediately," said Julee. "I also gave him a list of things he should do and gave him my phone number, promising to follow up with him."

A few minutes later, as some at the party walked out to the patio, Julee noticed that Ed had gone to get a drink of water and that he had "an odd look on his face."

"The next thing I know he fell back," continued Julee. "I was able to break his fall and get him into a comfortable position. I knew right away that Ed was experiencing arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat."

While comforting Ed, Julee saw his eyes roll back into his head. "He was then in full cardiac arrest," she said.

So Julee, who has more than 20 years of experience working in emergency rooms, immediately administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and instructed those at the party to call emergency medical services (EMS). Julee gave Ed CPR for about seven minutes, sending his oxygenated blood to vital organs like his brain and heart and keeping his organs alive.

Mountain View Fire, which responds to about 5,000 rescues and emergency services calls annually, arrived quickly and, using a defibrillator, restored Ed's heart to a more normal rhythm, allowing them to transport him to El Camino Health's Emergency Department. There, Steve Lee, M.D., a cardiologist, and the ER professionals took over to stabilize Ed and put him on the path to recovery.

"I remember talking to Julee and then not feeling well, feeling very tired," said Ed, who was active athletically before this medical incident and intends to continue his activities again. "I also remember seeing that jug of water and, the next thing I remembered was being on my back looking up at everyone."

Ed praised the team at El Camino Health for the care they provided during his seven-day stay at the hospital.

"The entire team at El Camino Health, from the doctors to the emergency room nurses, night shift workers and everyone else who provided care for me are all the best," said Ed. "Had Julee not been at the party, and if Mountain View Fire had not responded the way they did and as quickly as they did, I might not be here today. This entire experience has taught me listen to your body and listen to your doctors. If you do not feel well, make an appointment to get checked out."

Added Julee, "This was a 'perfect storm' story. I was there to help Ed and Mountain View Fire responded very quickly. Knowing CPR saves lives."

Learn more about CPR training in our area and about PulsePoint Respond, a free life-saving smartphone application available to the residents of Santa Clara County. The app uses location-based technology to alert CPR-trained citizens that someone in their immediate area is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The alerted CPR-trained citizen finds that person and may begin resuscitation until emergency responders arrive.