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Capable hands save life of cardiac victim

"Chain of survival" recognized for quick, smart actions after Chris Augustine collapsed on treadmill


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Isabella Augustine, 17, listens to her dad, Chris Augustine, as he listened to kudos given to the staff at the Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Metro West Ambulance on Tuesday for their roles in saving Chris life after he went into cardiac arrest while running on a treadmill on April 19.Chris Augustine remembers nothing about the early evening he went into cardiac arrest while running on a treadmill at Tualatin Park and Recreation District’s Conestoga Recreation Center on Friday, April 19.

Chances are he’ll never forget the reception that greeted him on Tuesday afternoon outside the center at 9985 S.W. 125th Avenue.

Because of the quick and appropriate actions of the center’s staff, one bystander and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel on that spring day, Augustine, 52, was able to attend a ceremony to mark his remarkable recovery and honor those who intervened on his behalf.

“We’re here to celebrate Chris Augustine’s recovery,” said Alisa Cour, TVF&R public affairs officer, noting that fewer than 8 percent of cardiac arrest victims survive without immediate hospital treatment. “Without the collective efforts, Chris would not be here with us.”

Before an audience of about 50 who gathered behind Conestoga’s aquatic center in the hot early afternoon sun, a robust-looking Augustine expressed his gratitude to those who saved his life.

“Wow,” said the Cedar Hills resident, surveying the crowd, which included his son, Alexander, 24, and daughter Isabelle, 17, among those who came to his rescue. “All these guys did something that night. I did nothing. I was down on the conveyor belt. I was passed from one set of capable hands to another set of capable hands.

“Flat-out gratitude. There are no words to describe how grateful I am.”

What was otherwise a routine workout at his usual physical fitness haunt turned into a scary, but remarkably smooth and efficient chain of events. Edita Boguslawski, who was working out nearby, heard a “plop.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Augustine go down on his running treadmill in the Conestoga fitness center.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Capt. Andrew Klein and Chris Augustines talk before Tuesdays ceremony to honor him as well as those who helped save his life after the Beaverton resident suffered a heart attack while running on a treadmill at the Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center on Southwest 125th Avenue.

“I ran up to the desk got get help,” Boguslawski said after the ceremony. “I thought the staff would know what to do, and they did.”

Within seconds, Conestoga staffers sprang into action. Samvel Grigorian provided life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, John Canova performed rescue breathing and Karin Madsen delivered a shock from an automatic external defibrillator that the park district keeps at the center for such emergencies.

Minutes later, Capt. Andrew Klein and his crew from TVF&R’s South Beaverton Station 66 and Metro West Ambulance paramedics arrived to begin advanced medical treatment. Augustine ultimately underwent five hours of quadruple bypass surgery to repair the blocked arteries that temporarily shut down his heart.

Augustine’s surgical team at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center credits the life-saving intervention he received in the initial minutes of his cardiac arrest with buying the precious time needed to get him to the hospital, noted Cassandra Ulven, TVF&R spokeswoman.

“That day, the chain of survival worked seamlessly, and as a result, (Chris) has made a full recovery and is back to work,” she said.

In addition to Madsen, Grigorian and Canova, TVF&R officials recognized park district staffers Jon Wangen, Brenda Peterson, Madeline Huffman, Maris Thompson and Erica Pahua for their quick and calm responses on April 19.

Canova, an aquatics coach and lifeguard at Conestoga since 1998, described the unfolding scene that evening as “like an old 24-frame-per-second film. I went on auto pilot,” he said, noting it was the first time he’s used rescue breathing in a non-training situation. “My reaction was automatic. I heard a gentleman was down. I came up the ramp, reached for the rescue pack and started doing compressions.

“I was extremely happy it had a positive outcome,” he added.

Wangen, Conestoga’s weekend and evening supervisor, said he was impressed with the way the staff members carried themselves while rapidly reacting to a dire situation.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Greg Ladrow and Division Chief of EMS Mark Stevens recognize Edita Boguslawski for quickly alerting staff at the Conestoga Recreation Center that Chris Augustine had collapsed on a running treadmill the evening of April 19.

“The whole staff was really calm,” he said. “I was impressed by how well the situation got contained. I think that helped everything else.”

Augustine, who works at Cdi Information Technology Solutions, said other than a little shortness of breath in the months before the incident, he had no indication his arteries were severely blocked. He attributes most of his recent health woes to genetics rather then lifestyle issues.

“I didn’t feel anything,” he said of the night he collapsed. “I was in good shape.”

Now he feels better than ever, and is getting back into his routine of yoga, kayaking and jogging.

“I just feel great,” he said, adding Tuesday’s ceremony was not “about me. It’s about them, the staff and all those people working together who saved my life. These guys just did an awesome job. That’s the message: Their work matters, and it saves lives.”




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