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A Chair, a Heart, and a Wristband

PromoCares Story - Bill Petrie, PromoCorner

3/2/2018 | PromoCares Contributing Author, PromoCares

I hate that chair.

In fact, I’ve always hated that chair. Along with a sofa and storage ottoman, it was purchased in 2012 when my family relocated from the suburbs of Chicago to the suburbs of Nashville. Neither particularly attractive nor comfortable, that chair is usually the last one chosen when it’s time to gather around the fire – or television – for family time. It’s stiff, ill-positioned, and, frankly, ugly.

18 months ago, it was on that chair that my son found Sandy, my bride of almost 24 years, slumped, unresponsive, with shallow, labored breathing, and only a hint of a pulse having suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 47. Knowing something wasn’t right with his mom, I can still hear him screaming for help when I see that chair. I remember darting into the room and simultaneously seeing the unadulterated fear in his eyes and, frankly, the look of death on her face as her lips turned a bluish hue. I’ve come to realize in moments of sheer terror, instinct takes over – not rational thought, not the weighing of options – but simple instinct.

Growing up in Texas, my summer job was that of a lifeguard and, as part of the training, I learned CPR and was certified by the American Heart Association. Again, in that terrifying moment, my instinct took over and I pulled Sandy off the chair and called 911 as I administered CPR. I later learned that I gave her CPR for over six minutes, during which time her heart was stopped for at least four of them. Six minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but any medical professional will tell you that it is.

As my son led the paramedics into the house, I was told to continue CPR as they set up their equipment. After about a minute, I was told to step aside so the paramedics could take over. While I ushered my son out of the room, I saw one of them lubricating the defibrillator to try and bring her back to life. After two shocks (and an additional one in the ambulance on the way to Vanderbilt Medical Center), her pulse returned.

Over the next 11 days, she was put into a hypothermic coma, gradually brought out of said coma, regained all neurological and physical functions, and had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) inserted into her body to both pace her heart and shock it should the events of that first night happen again.

To say the least, it has been a life-altering journey. Over the course of her stay at Vanderbilt, the gravity of her situation presented itself time and again. Paramedics, emergency room doctors, cardiac critical care nurses, electrophysiologists, and cardiologists shared that 93% of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital do not survive. Even more harrowing, those who do survive have a 70% chance of being either mentally or physically handicapped. Given those statistics, the fact that Sandy made a full recovery is truly miraculous.

However, it’s really a series of miracles what wouldn’t have been possible without the American Heart Association:

  • Chances of survival for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest increase to 40% when a bystander administers CPR as certified by the American Heart Association
  • The hypothermic coma protocol, made possible by research largely underwritten by the American Heart Association, counteracts many of the destructive brain mechanisms due to cardiac arrest
  • The ICD that allows Sandy to live a normal, active life, would not exist without the research done by the American Heart Association

When Sandy came home from the hospital, I wanted to find something to remind me that she is a living, breathing miracle. After doing a bit of searching, I settled on a simple, yet meaningful, promotional product: a silicone wristband. Costing about a dollar, this promotional product has allowed me to share Sandy’s story and the importance of bystander CPR. I know of at least a dozen people who have taken it upon themselves to get their CPR certification and I have no doubt that lives will be saved as a result.

To most, it’s a just a silicone wristband. To me and those who know Sandy’s story, it’s a powerful reminder of lives that are saved every day by the great work of the American Heart Association.

Today, I walked by that chair – the one that I find uncomfortable, ill-positioned, and ugly – and smiled.

I love that chair.

If you want to learn more about Sandy’s story, you can watch the video below. It was produced by the American Heart Association as Sandy was one of their “Survivor Stories” for 2017 and tells the story much better than I could ever hope. We all have causes that are close to us, and this is one that is close to mine. If you would like to find out more information or get involved with the American Heart Association, please click here


Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at bill@PromoCorner.com.

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