Dave Mann and Steve Woody shared an unusual opportunity Wednesday afternoon.
By coincidence, both men suffered heart attacks at the 24 Hour Fitness off Bel-Red Road the same week—and both men can attribute their survival to the quick thinking of the gym staff and the automatic external defibrillator equipped at the Bellevue gym.
An automatic external defibrillator is a machine with pads that monitors a patient's pulse and can send an electric jolt to help restart a stopped heart, such as when a person experiences a heart attack.
Mann, a Redmond resident, and Woody both thanked staff at 24 Hour Fitness Wednesday afternoon, one month after they were saved by the same automatic external defibrillator in two separate instances.
"I get to start Zumba again next week," said Woody, a Kirkland resident. "I'm the luckiest person in the world."
On Oct. 31, Mann, 79, was getting ready to play racquetball at the club with two other friends when he collapsed. Staff members sounded the alarm and called for medics.
24-Hour Fitness employee Thomas Anderson, a personal trainer who was between clients at the club, heard the alarms and reached Mann first.
"I hightailed it over there," he said.
Anderson, an Army veteran who had experience with CPR in the military, began chest compressions on Mann, which Mann joked Wednesday was the only thing that hurt when he was in the hospital.
Fitness manager Nick Powers cut Mann's shirt open and applied the AED's pads to his body, as he was trained to do.
Mann, a former Seattle Rainiers baseball player, said that he has been a member at the club for 40 years and that he's easing back into activity. The heart attack he suffered was his second.
"I'm going to stick to the leg machines," Mann said Wednesday.
The very next day, Woody, 66, collapsed during a Zumba class. Dr. David Nelson, a cardiac surgeon at Overlake Hospital, happened to be working out when the instructors called the front desk for help.
Nelson performed CPR on Woody, a retired general manager at Bellevue’s Jaguar Land Rover dealership.
Nelson and a Bellevue police officer who arrived were able to provide three shocks with the very same AED used on Mann the previous day.
Nelson had another opportunity to help Woody two days later, when he performed heart surgery on him, Woody said.
Woody said that his heart problems took him by surprise. It turned out that 85 percent of the capillaries to his heart were blocked.
"We exercise seven hours a week. We mountain bike, we ski. I thought I was in phenomenal shape," Woody said.
However, Woody believes he's lucky that gym staff members knew exactly what to do and that a doctor happened to be working out at the same time he was. 24 Hour Fitness employees Kristena Coleman, a personal trainer, Ashley Reynolds, membership manager, and John Dozier, club manager, were also thanked and honored for helping the two men.
"Everybody conspired to give me another opportunity," Woody said.
Woody said he is eager to get back to Zumba class on Monday.
"I'm really antsy to come back," Woody said.
Encouraging the public
Anne Curtis, CPR/AED program manager at Emergency Medical Services for Seattle-King County Public Health, said that the county hopes that the public becomes more aware of the growing use of automatic external defibrillators and that businesses register their AEDs with the county.
Regsitration means that dispatchers can identify when an AED is nearby during an emergency and direct people to use them, Curtis said.
There are about 2,700 of them throughout King County—many in public buildings like community centers or schools—and about 47 registered AEDs at gym facilities, she said.
Though there is training available to use an AED, the machines monitor patients and give commands to use them, so no special training is necessary, Curtis said.
"We don't want people to be afraid of using them," she said.