As Tim Allard drove a backhand into the corner of the court at the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club, he thought about the last time he had played tennis on this same court. It was just two months earlier during a tennis team practice that he had collapsed here, blue in the face and unconscious. On that day, a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) had nearly ended Tim’s time on the club’s 65-and-older United States Tennis Association (USTA) sanctioned team. The quick actions of his teammates not only saved his life, but according to Tim’s cardiologist, likely prevented permanent damage to Tim’s heart.
Team captain Bill Oler was playing across from Tim that day two months ago when he saw Tim drop to the ground during a match. Bill immediately began CPR and shouted for someone to call 9-1-1 and retrieve the automated external defibrillator (AED) from the lobby. “None of us there really had any experience,” Bill says. “It was really harrowing.” He recalled at the time that deep CPR compressions were vital to get oxygen to the brain and avoid brain damage, so he focused on doing that while Lovelle Crenshaw, a tennis pro playing that night, retrieved the ZOLL Powerheart® G5.
“None of us there really had any experience. It was really harrowing.”— Bill Oler
CVAC USTA team captain
Another tennis pro, Bob Rowe, took over compressions while Bill connected the AED electrodes to Tim. Although the 9-1-1 operator was providing guidance over the phone, “We were listening more to the feedback from the defibrillator than to the operator,” Bill says. They followed the AED instructions, stood back, and watched it analyze and shock Tim’s heart. The AED instructed them to continue compressions, and soon after Tim coughed and started breathing on his own.
Widow maker thwarted
At the hospital, cardiologists found that Tim’s lower descending artery was completely blocked. They cleared the blockage and inserted a stent.
Tim was released after only four days in the hospital. Doctors attribute Tim’s quick recovery from a “widow maker” heart attack and subsequent SCA to bystanders’ quick response with CPR and an AED. Following the Cath Lab procedure, Tim’s cardiologist thanked Bill for “bringing them a patient that they could work on.”
Two months on, Tim is playing tennis twice a week. He feels lucky that his attack occurred where and when it did and that a ZOLL® AED was accessible to bystanders. “If this had happened while I was skiing the back country of Utah, the outcome wouldn’t have been the same,” he says.