On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Philadelphians were enjoying one of those postcard-worthy spring days that city-dwellers cherish. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, the air was clear, and the temperature was just right. Runners from all over the country who had gathered in the City of Brotherly Love couldn’t have asked for a better day for the annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run.
Atlanta native Rob Seymour, then 26, and his wife Michelle were among the nearly 40,000 athletes jogging their way to the finish line at Philly’s famed Naval Yard. The popular run down the city’s main north-south thoroughfare is the largest 10-mile race in the nation and a favorite among runners.
A lifelong athlete with a passion for baseball, basketball, and running, Rob had achieved a personal record time during the 2014 race and was focusing on enjoying his fifth Broad Street Run with his wife. They were both looking forward to the celebratory tailgate with friends and family at the end of the course.
“It was a leisurely run. That year the goal was to have Michelle finish the race, so it was a different experience. It was a lot of fun. We were enjoying ourselves through the whole race,” said Rob in a recent interview.
Rob and Michelle never made it to that tailgate, however.
Just moments after Rob and his wife triumphantly crossed the finish line, he began to feel dizzy. At first, he thought it was a low blood pressure issue but soon realized that it was something far more serious.
“My vision just kept closing and things got blurrier and blurrier. I realized that it wasn’t going to stop. I called out to my wife hoping to catch myself on her. She turned around just in time to watch me drop to my knees and fall face first onto the ground,” remembers Rob.
Soon after he hit the pavement, he began seizing. Fortunately, a nearby team of paramedics saved his life. One began performing CPR while the other grabbed a portable automatic external defibrillator (AED). The device quickly recognized that his heart had gone into ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) and applied one shock. After the life-saving shock, Rob’s heart resumed its normal rhythm.
The next thing he remembers he was lying on his back, admiring the clear blue sky as the gurney he was on bumped along to the ambulance. Rob, who worked in the health insurance industry at the time, knew full well the costs associated with the ambulance ride and the treatment they were discussing. Assuming he was merely dehydrated, he found himself requesting a Gatorade and questioning the need for an IV and challenging the EMTs on whether or not he really needed to go to the hospital.
Then the paramedic told him that his heart had stopped and that he’d gone into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
“My wife, who was in the front of the ambulance turned around and told me to just let them do their job,” recalls Rob.
During the five days that Rob spent at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, physicians ran a full battery of cardiac tests in an attempt to determine what had happened.
“They looked at everything they could look at structurally and electrophysiologically, but ultimately they couldn’t tell me what caused the situation,” remembers Rob.
He opted to have a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD) implanted to constantly monitor his heart rate. Fortunately, he hasn’t had any episodes since that day in May and he has the peace of mind of knowing that the S-ICD will shock his heart back into a normal rhythm if necessary.
“If such a thing had to happen, I was certainly in the right place at the right time. I could have been out on my own on a weekend run like I had been hundreds of times. I was so fortunate that the medics and the AED were there,” says Rob.
Since Rob’s SCA, not only does he notice the location of AEDs in airports and in public buildings, but both he and his wife enrolled in a CPR class. Today, he’s an advocate for learning CPR.
“We felt we needed to be prepared to do that [perform CPR] for someone else,” notes Rob. “We needed to know that we could keep someone alive until help arrives. It wasn’t all that difficult, but it gave us the confidence to know that we could help someone.”
Cardio Partners Account Specialist Sean Stargel, who attended elementary and high school with Rob, remembers him as an outgoing and active athlete who excelled at basketball and baseball.
“Honestly, it’s scary to hear about an AED being used on someone I’ve known as long as I’ve known Rob. I’m very grateful that there was AED present to provide the life-saving therapy that he needed,” says Sean. “We’re in this for a reason and that reason is to make sure that people are informed about the risks of SCA. We provide these devices so that people have a solution within reach.”
AED.com is a trusted nationwide CPR training center. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at email@example.com.