Petaluma foursome to be honored for saving friend's life with CPR

  • Todd Parks, fourth from left, with friends Rick Krist, Bill Bertolucci, Mike Shugars, Jim Krist, and brother Scott Parks at the Petaluma Fire Department, in Petaluma, Calif., on August 31, 2013. When Todd Parks collapsed from a heart attack, his friends and brother immediately applied CPR before paramedics arrived, helping to save his life. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Todd Parks figures if he had to have a heart attack, he was in the right place at the right time.

It was early in the morning on July 18 at Rancho Meats in Petaluma, where he works, and several friends were nearby.

"I could have been in my car, and I'd be dead. I could have been in the front yard, and I'd be dead," he said. "Every planet and star lined up for me.

"I had four buddies down there. They wanted to keep me alive and they did. They didn't hesitate."

Every one of them knew CPR. They leapt into action and likely saved Parks' life.

His good fortune underscores the importance of knowing the simple life-saving technique, said Jeff Schach, the Petaluma Fire Department battalion chief whose crew responded.

Less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive, according to the American Heart Association. Bystander CPR performed immediately after a sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival.

But only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

In a recent Leadership Petaluma project, Schach's group set a goal of teaching 1,000 people to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation. That's the Heart Association's newer version of the technique that no longer requires mouth-to-mouth, which proved a deterrent for some.

Hands-only CPR — just chest compressions — has been proven to be as effective as CPR with breaths in treating adult cardiac arrest victims, the heart association said. It has recommended the hands-only version for teen and adult patients since 2008.

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