Y Story: The Strength of Community

By: Don Osur | Thursday, January 30, 2020 | Our Cause

From left: Pat McGovern, Joe Nazare, Don Osur, Bill Kanas

I’ve been a YMHA/YMCA member since long before the move to Wayne. I work out (jog, SPIN, weights) probably 5-6 days a week, and worked as a certified trainer for two years a few years back.

The Y has been a big part of my life since I was a kid, and on 9/12/19, my life was saved, thanks to fellow members, staff, and first responders. On that Thursday morning, I was running my usual 3 miles on a treadmill in the adult fitness room. I was taking a water break after the first mile and had just stepped on the treadmill to begin my 2nd mile, feeling perfectly fine. Before pressing the “start” button, I remember feeling lightheaded for a moment. The next thing I remember was waking up on my back, looking up at familiar faces, plus EMS and police. My cardiologist, Edward Julie, M.D., was called, and I was rushed by ambulance to St. Joseph’s, Paterson, where I had an angiogram, a few stents, and was released on 9/14 with a relatively clean bill of health. It was only in the hours and days following the event that I learned what it took to save my life, and about the heroes who took action, quickly and efficiently to bring me back.

Bruce Seidman was just getting off an elliptical and saw me collapse, hitting my head “hard” on the back of the treadmill. Fellow members immediately sought staff assistance and Health and Wellness Coordinator Joe Nazare assessed my condition, and ran downstairs to get the AED. While this was happening, Pat McGovern, a police dispatcher, was exiting the locker room, and began performing CPR, with the assistance of Associate Executive Director Bill Kanas and other members. Joe then put the AED to work and, according to witnesses, I was resuscitated, fully coherent, within a minute or so of the event. Truly amazing chain of events, and a great example of what can be accomplished when competent people, keeping cool, work together.

When I collapsed, I became one of the 356,000 out-of-hospital victims in the U.S. annually. According to the American Heart Association nearly 90 percent are fatal, and of those survivors, many suffer varying degrees of brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, all dependent on how many minutes it takes to resuscitate the patient and restore oxygen to the brain.

It’s important to note that I suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest and not a Heart Attack, or Myocardial Infarction. An SCA is an electrical problem (arrhythmia), and in my case caused no heart damage. An MI is a plumbing problem, where a blocked artery stops blood flow to the heart, and the heart muscle is damaged.

By 9/18, I was back to exercising, though not quite as intensely. I substituted walking for running, and continue to spin and weight train. On Dr. Julie’s recommendation, I’m limiting by heart rate, which, with my new Apple Watch, is easy to monitor.

My family and friends join me in being forever grateful to everyone who worked together to save me. It really took a village.

Thanks to all.

-The author is a member of the Wayne YMCA.


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