By Sally Voth email@example.com
Regular visits to the gym will prolong your life -- just ask Ray Sedwick.
The New Market resident had just gotten off the treadmill at Woodstock Rehab & Fitness on July 23 when, as he says, "I walked to the wall and played dead."
"And he convinced me," owner Dave Reichley says.
When Sedwick's friend, Barbara Whittington, saw him collapse, she yelled down to the gym's lower level for help.
Reichley ran upstairs to the exercise room and found the 79-year-old on the floor not breathing and without a pulse. It turned out he was in cardiac arrest.
"So, I immediately told one of my employees to get our AED, and started CPR," Reichley says.
He says it was the first time in the 11 years the gym has owned the automated external defibrillator that it's been used.
According to the American Heart Association's website, AEDs can assess a person's heart rhythm and determine whether a shock is needed, and provide simple instructions.
The AHA website says of the roughly 295,000 people who go into sudden cardiac arrests outside of a hospital setting, 92 percent die. Survival rates drop by 7 to 10 percent every minute until a normal heart rhythm is re-established, according to the site.
While Reichley was giving Sedwick chest compressions, A.J. Lievre, Woodstock Rehab's director of physical therapy, was giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
"We shocked him," Reichley says. "We got a pulse afterwards. We as a company had just had CPR training for the whole staff two months ago, and one of the things they said was continue CPR until the rescue squad comes. So we did.
"Having A.J. there for me was very soothing because he had been in the class. He gave me instructions. He reminded me of some things that needed to be done, and he confirmed that there was no pulse. That meant a lot that he was there."
It didn't take long for Woodstock Rescue Squad to arrive, Reichley says.
After initially being taken to Shenandoah Memorial Hosptial, Sedwick was transferred to Winchester Medical Center where he had a defibrillator implanted in his chest.
A few days after his release from the hospital, Sedwick was back at Woodstock Rehab to thank his saviors. A diabetic, Sedwick has been hitting the gym for 20 years, and has been going to Woodstock Rehab since 2009, and hopes to get clearance to resume his workout routine at his next doctor's appointment, which is Aug. 22.
"I feel okay," Sedwick says. "They just won't let me do nothing."
A widower, he knows he is fortunate he didn't go into cardiac arrest while alone.
"If I had had it at home, I would be on the dirt side of the sod," he says.
A kidder, Sedwick frequently trades punchlines with Reichley.
"One of the EMS people told me that he's only had two [cardiac-arrest patients] in 22 years that have been able to recover without neurological damage," Reichley says.
"You trying to say mine was there before it happened?" Sedwick joked.
Reichley stresses the importance of having an AED on-site.
"It just made sense," he says. "As soon as I could afford it, I didn't want to be without one if that technology was out there. I can't imagine a fitness facility without one. They're extremely useful in saving lives."
In fact, Reichley had the replacement pads necessary after using the old ones on Sedwick sent to the gym overnight delivery.
Because of their training, his staff knew to have people in the road to direct the ambulance to the site and lead EMTs to where Sedwick was, and to provide them with a copy of his medical history.
"They done a good job," Sedwick says. "Excellent job, not good. Excellent."
He's eager to get back to his cardio and weight-lifting regimen.
"Doctor told me, 'You've got this second life, live it to the fullest,'" Sedwick relates. "I guess that means going to the gym."