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One heartbeat away

Quick thinking, and CPR, save a Hagley man’s life

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Terry Lasell doesn’t remember the first time he met James Green.

Technically, he was dead.

Lasell, 57, of Hagley Estates, was going into the Pawleys Island Post Office to pick up his mail on Feb. 20 when he collapsed in the parking lot.

He had experienced sudden cardiac death, something he’d never even heard of before.

It was good timing and the quick thinking of a bystander, Green, 43, of Petigru Drive, that saved him.

“He’s the reason I’m here today,” Lasell said. “Words can’t even explain how thankful I am.”

Lasell had the chance to thank Green in person Monday. His words were simple, but heartfelt and followed by long hug.

They wanted to contact each other earlier, but privacy laws made the process more difficult than they expected.

Green hadn’t even been able to find out if Lasell had survived when he called the hospital, and no one had been able to give Lasell his rescuer’s identity after he found out what happened.

Lasell’s brush with death happened just before 1 p.m. that day when he went into cardiac arrest. There was no warning at all, he said.

“I was walking across the parking lot and the last thing I really remember is putting my leg up on the curb and everything went black,” Lasell said. “After they brought me back, the first thing I remember is them putting me in the ambulance.”

Green didn’t see Lasell go down. He had stopped to talk to a friend on his way out of the post office and his back was to the door.

The woman he was talking to saw it, but thought Lasell had tripped.

“He was flat on his face when I walked over to check on him,” Green said. “I rolled him over, but he wasn’t responding. His nose was bleeding and he was unconscious.”

Green learned CPR as part of his training in the National Guard. He couldn’t do mouth to mouth, because of the blood covering Lasell’s face, but he started chest compressions immediately.

“I just kept doing it and doing it,” Green said.

It was the first time he’d been called on to put his CPR skills to use.

A few minutes later, a cardiologist joined Green to help, but if Green hadn’t been nearby, Lasell’s chances of survival might have been significantly diminished, said Bob Beebe, part of the Midway Fire and Rescue team that responded to the scene.

Brain death starts to occur four to six minutes after cardiac arrest, he said. Electric shock is required to restore a normal heartbeat, but CPR can hold off permanent damage for a short while until emergency responders arrive.

A victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, according to the American Heart Association.

CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival.

Lasell said he was told 93 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac death don’t survive. Of those who do, five percent have brain damage.

He views his resuscitation as a miracle.

“The Lord’s given me a second chance and he did it through [Green],” Lasell said. “Apparently, the Lord’s got some work for me yet that I haven’t done.”

For Green’s part, he’s just thankful he was able to help and Lasell had a quick recovery.

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