When Long Soo Keat joined his friends for an alumni football game one September afternoon, he would never have dreamed that five teenagers were about to save his life. The 49-year-old real estate agent, who enjoyed playing football at least once a week, had never experienced any symptoms or indications of heart problems.

On this fateful day, as he walked off the field at Chung Ling High School in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, Soo Keat suddenly blacked out and collapsed. 

Ansley Tan Zhong, 14, first noticed the fallen man and quickly called his friends for help. The teens, volunteers for St. John Ambulance, an organization that teaches and provides first aid and emergency medicine, immediately jumped into action. “I was panicking a bit,” Ansley admitted, “but I told myself to calm down and assessed the situation.”

Gabriel Soon Chai Long, 16, adds, “When we reached the victim, he was not breathing and had no pulse. That’s when we knew it was a sudden cardiac arrest.” 

A coordinated effort

After asking a bystander to bring the ZOLL® automated external defibrillator (AED) that was housed on the school grounds, the boys performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as they’d been trained, and attached the AED to Soo Keat. “We followed the instructions [given by the AED],” said Liong Jun Yong, 16. After analyzing Soo Keat’s heart rhythm, the device advised a defibrillating shock. The boys initiated the shock and continued performing CPR. 

Despite a chaotic environment, the boys were able to steadily focus on their lifesaving efforts by following the AED’s voice prompts and took turns performing CPR. “The AED’s voice prompts kept telling me to push harder,” Gabriel recalled. “The victim was bigger than I was, and I used all my strength.” 

Thanks to the teens’ quick actions and the ZOLL AED Plus®, Soo Keat regained consciousness and his heart began beating normally again. He was then transported to the Penang General Hospital. 

“When we reached the victim, he was not breathing and had no pulse. That’s when we knew it was a sudden cardiac arrest.”

– Gabriel Soon Chai Long, Teen rescuer

When he regained consciousness, Soo Keat had no recollection of the event. “Playing football on the field at Chung Ling School,” he said, “that’s the only thing I remember before blacking out.” His wife, who was at his side when he woke up, explained that he had suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). “Only then did I realize that something serious had happened to me.” 

During his two-week recovery at the hospital, Soo Keat learned about the five brave teens who saved his life. A few weeks later, he had the opportunity to meet the boys in person at a CPR/AED training event, where he expressed his gratitude for “giving him a second chance at life.” 

Value of CPR training

Dr. Luah Lean Wah, who treated Soo Keat during his recovery, noted that he was very lucky, as the SCA survival rate in Malaysia is less than 1%. In addition, she pointed out that it is critical to administer CPR during the first four minutes following SCA to avoid brain damage; death can occur if CPR is not performed within 10 minutes.

“If everybody knew how to use AEDs and how to practice CPR, I think we can save a lot of lives.”

– Long Soo Keat, Sudden cardiac arrest survivor

For that reason, Soo Keat encourages everyone to learn CPR and how to use an AED. “If everybody knew how to use AEDs and how to practice CPR, I think we can save a lot of lives.”

He added, “I feel thankful and grateful to everyone who helped me, and I thank God [for arranging] everything in the right conditions to help me survive.”

As for the heroic teenagers, it was all in a day’s work. In the words of 14-year-old Shaman Suresh: “We just put in our best efforts to save this man’s life.”

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