Tales of hands-only CPR and survival

  • Daniel Petersen, left, gave CPR to Dick Jensen while he was having a heart attack in January at a 24 Hour Fitness gym. Photo taken at Jensen's home on Thursday, August 14, 2014 in Petaluma, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Dick Jensen’s gym routine in Petaluma was “do the elliptical, go to the water fountain and then go to the treadmill.”

But last January, the 66-year-old got to the water fountain and his heart suddenly stopped.

Daniel Petersen, on a nearby stationary bike, heard a bang and turned to see Jensen fall against some lockers and to the floor.

“I did a double take and realized he’s not getting up,” he said.

Petersen ran over and began pressing hard and fast on Jensen’s chest while an employee at 24 Hour Fitness called 911 and another grabbed an AED, the in-house automated external defibrillator, to shock Jensen’s heart into beating.

Jensen, now recovered from his heart attack but still nursing a smashed ankle from the fall, owes his life to quick-thinking Petersen, the gym workers and Petaluma firefighters who rushed him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s cardio center.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, has gotten easier. You just use your hands.

There are just three easy steps to using hands-only CPR, said Jeff Schach, battalion chief in charge of emergency medical services for the Petaluma Fire Department.

“If someone collapses, shake him and shout, ‘Are you OK?’. If there’s no response, call 911 or have someone else call. Then, start pushing down hard and fast in the center of the chest.”

Diane Aviles, 75, was carrying picnic food into the Petaluma Senior Center in June when she told a woman at the door. “I think I have a problem.” Aviles collapsed, the other woman yelled “Help!” and center director Don Streeper came running and started doing CPR.

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