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Locals team up to save man's life at golf club

Bob and Teri Reed’s intention was to escape from their home in Los Angeles on a beautiful summer day, play a round of golf at Fallbrook Golf Club, then enjoy dinner and an overnight visit with Bob’s mother, Mary Reed, who resides here. While July 16 started out as the couple had planned, it quickly turned into one of near tragedy.

Shortly after finishing the ninth hole on the golf course, it was about noon when Bob and Teri decided cold sodas were needed to quench their thirst. With Bob in the lead, the couple walked up to the snack bar for their refreshments.

“I had my wallet in one hand, reached for door, then it felt like a sniper shot hit me; it was that quick,” explained Bob. What Bob suffered was cardiac arrest.

“Basically, he ‘flatlined,’” said Teri, who explained that they had no reason to think 56-year-old Bob was in a precarious health situation.

“He just had a complete physical with great results,” she said. “He is very active and careful about his diet.”

When Bob fell to the ground, Teri was shocked.

“It was very scary,” she said. “He fell in such an odd position, almost a fetal position, and when I saw his face I knew he was in bad shape because his face was a dark blue; his eyes were fixed, not blinking.”

As Teri tried to move Bob into a more prone position, help immediately surrounded the couple. Given the warm day, golfers both ahead of and behind the couple on the course had also elected to make the trip to the snack bar for cold drinks

“One of the golfers ahead of us called 911 and I started doing CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) the best I could, but I’m not proficient,” said Teri. A golf club staff member that was barbecuing food began to clear the area in anticipation of paramedics, she added.

At that moment, the golfers behind the Reeds approached the clubhouse and one immediately sprung into action. As luck would have it, she was a nurse.

“She came in and took over; immediately went into action; she asked for the club’s defibrillator; she knew they had one,” explained Teri. “She was calling out instructions and doing CPR much harder than I was.” When the nurse called out for two 12-packs of beer, Teri was baffled.

“When she told them to bring them immediately and put them under Bob’s feet in order to elevate them, then I understood,” Teri said. The nurse’s strategy and hard work paid off.

“She kept him going until the paramedics arrived,” said Teri.

North County Fire’s Battalion Chief of Emergency Services, Stephen Abbott, just happened to be in the area and responded to the call, pulling in just ahead of his paramedics.

“I was told in route that CPR was in progress and when I arrived on scene I saw him lying on the ground with the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) applied,” said Abbott. “I walked up to him and noticed he was breathing, fairly normally, which is pretty remarkable for anyone who has just come out of cardiac arrest.” An AED is a portable electronic device that diagnoses and treats cardiac arrest.

When the paramedic team arrived and took over, they continued to support Bob’s ventilation, put him on an oxygen feed, and inserted an intravenous line through which they administered medication to regulate his heart.

“In this case, we just took him to the hospital,” said Abbott, identifying the paramedics on scene as Captain Dan Delgado, Engineer Pete August, firefighter/paramedic Paul Moritz, firefighter/paramedic Mitch Iglesias, and reserve firefighter Joe Harlin.

“The bystanders deserve all the credit in this case,” he added. “I was told he was defibrillated only one time.” Abbott said he couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.

“ My thought was that it was fantastic that the AED unit was even <at the golf club> in the first place; that people knew it was there and what it was; and that people were not afraid to use it and not afraid to do bystander CPR. This is exactly the way the system is supposed to work.”

Bob was transported to Palomar Hospital, where he was treated and ultimately released from on July 21.

“He had two stents put in; the problem was in his right coronary artery,” said Teri. “Everything else was clear.” And the final report was nothing if not amazing.

“He did not have any heart damage due to the incident,” said Teri.

Bob was also somewhat amazed when doctors told him there wasn’t anything he could have done to prevent the situation.

“He said it was due to a hereditary condition involving a plaque substance,” explained Teri. “The doctor said it had nothing to do with diet or exercise.”

“It was sort of a shock, because I’ve always been really active,” said Bob, “but I realize I’m not 25 years old anymore.”

“I’m just glad that everything worked out the way it did; it was fortunate,” he said.

Teri said she remains staggered at the outpouring of assistance they received from fellow golfers, the nurse, and the staff at Fallbrook Golf Club. While several people said the nurse was an individual who frequently golfed at the course, her identity wasn’t readily known.

“I would love to know who [the nurse] was,” she said. “Everyone was so kind – the other golfers (one of whom she remembers was Ben Speck) who called 911 and looked after me while everything was going on; the girl in the snack bar that offered to drive me to the hospital.”

“I can’t say enough about every single person I came into contact with that day,” said Teri. “In the news, we only hear about the terrible things, but in this case there were countless people that stopped their day to stay with us. And the fact that the golf course had a defibrillator was amazing.”

Abbott said there are a total of 36 AED units placed throughout the community of Fallbrook.

“They are at all the schools, most major businesses and large churches,” said Abbott. “Some places are taking it upon themselves to buy their own at an approximate cost of about $1,000.”

Abbott said the most common misconception about the devices is that it’s possible to accidentally “shock” someone or fatally injure them.

“You can’t accidentally shock someone and kill them, and you can’t shock a bystander,” said Abbott. “The way technology is now, you can only help someone, not hurt them, by using the device.”

Abbott also said businesses have “no reason to worry about liability,” in using the devices if needed. “Plus, for bystanders, there is the existence of the Good Samaritan laws.”

When it comes to CPR, Abbott said recent studies have shown that sustained compression-only CPR is more successful than the original procedure that alternated compression with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“It’s actually more beneficial to keep doing the rapid compressions than to stop and do the breathing portion,” explained Abbott. “In the initial stages of cardiac arrest, your body has enough oxygen for three or four minutes.”

In the case of Bob Reed, Abbott said the outcome was “really, really good news and a textbook example of how it should work, because when got to the hospital he was already conscious and oriented.”

Of the number of AED devices installed throughout the community, compared to what would be ideal, Abbott said there is room for improvement, but funding is the main issue.

“The Fallbrook Healthcare District provided two separate grants that provided the vast majority of the AED devices currently in our community,” he said. “This grant was implemented by the fire department. Currently, no additional AED grants are available, but we are always on the lookout for additional sources.”

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• ACW Farms

• Albertsons

• Bonsall Elementary School

• CDF Station De Luz

• Christ the King Church

• Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

• Daniel’s Market

• De Luz Volunteer Fire Dept (Cathy Dr.)

• De Luz Vol. Fire Dept. (39536 Daily Rd.)

• Fallbrook Cardiac Rehab Center

Fallbrook High School

• Fallbrook Golf Club

• Fallbrook Public Utility District

• Fallbrook Sanitary District

• Fallbrook Street School

• Frazier Elementary School

• Grand Tradition

• Iowa Street School

• La Paloma Elementary School

• Live Oak School

• Maie Ellis Elementary School

• Major Market

• Pala Mesa Resort

• Potter Jr. High School

• Rainbow Municipal Water District

• Rainbow Volunteer Fire Dept.

• Ross Lake

• San Luis Rey Golf Club

• Sheriff’s Dept. vehicles (4)

• Sullivan Middle School

• Ultra Star Theatres-Bonsall

• Vallecitos Elementary School

• Zion Lutheran Church

The AED locations listed above are those known to North County Fire Protection District. More units may exist, but not known by this agency.


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