Team ef­fort saves Bernville man’s life

The Hamburg Area Item - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­mu­nity mem­bers as­sisted Shawn White of Bernville af­ter he suf­fered sud­den car­diac ar­rest at his daugh­ter’s bas­ket­ball game on Feb. 10 in Top­ton.

White was at­tend­ing a bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment to watch and cheer for his daugh­ter, Natane, at Brandy­wine Heights Mid­dle School.

Pre­vi­ously di­ag­nosed with Atrial fib­ril­la­tion, or A-fib, an ir­reg­u­lar, often rapid heart rate that com­monly causes poor blood flow, White wasn’t feel­ing well through­out the game. When it ended, he was headed out­side to get some air but had to stop and sit in a chair in the hall­way. Fear­ing the worst, White asked his wife who was nearby to call 911. The last thing he re­mem­bered was he passed out.

“I thought it was the Afib at first,” White said, “but this was 10 times worse.”

Be­fore pass­ing out White said he be­gan hav­ing tight­ness in his chest and es­pe­cially in his jaw.

For­tu­nately for him, Melissa Hahn, an emer­gency room nurse at Lehigh Val­ley Hospi­tal-Cedar Crest in Al­len­town, who also hap­pened to be at the game, was nearby and de­ter­mined he did not have a pulse. But this was only the be­gin­ning of the team ef­fort to help White, who was in sud­den car­diac ar­rest.

Oth­ers pitched in, too. Kerry Sny­der, a teacher at Oley Mid­dle School, and a bas­ket­ball coach, quickly be­gan do­ing hands-only CPR. He knew from the classes he takes each year as a coach that the most im­por­tant thing was to be­gin com­pres­sions. Iron­i­cally, this wasn’t the first time Sny­der had to do CPR. Years ear­lier, his brother had died from a heart at­tack while Sny­der was ad­min­is­ter­ing CPR to him.

Amanda Pot­teiger, the wife of Brandy­wine Heights Area School District Su­per­in­ten­dent An­drew Pot­teiger, was the or­ga­nizer of the bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment and im­me­di­ately lo­cated the au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tor (AED) kept at the school for emer­gen­cies like this and brought it to White’s aid.

That’s when Shawn Habakus, a lo­cal den­tist jumped in. Us­ing the AED, he shocked White back into nor­mal heart rhythm as Top­ton EMS ar­rived on the scene.

White was trans­ported to the Lehigh Val­ley Heart In­sti­tute at LVH-Cedar Crest in Al­len­town where he re­ceived three stents and an S-ICD un­der the care of an­other team led by J. Pa­trick Kleave­land, MD, car­di­ol­o­gist, and fel­low car­di­ol­o­gist Nghia Hoang, DO.

The S-ICD Sys­tem is a Sub­cu­ta­neous (un­der the skin) Im­plantable Car­dioverter De­fib­ril­la­tor for peo­ple who are at risk of sud­den car­diac ar­rest. Un­like a transve­nous ICD, in which leads are fed into the heart through a vein and at­tached to the heart wall, which raises the risk of com­pli­ca­tions, the elec­trodes of the S-ICD are placed just un­der the skin and not in the heart, leav­ing the heart and veins un­touched and in­tact.

White left the hospi­tal six days later.

“I’m feel­ing real good,” he said. “I’m still just a lit­tle sore from the chest com­pres­sions.”

Since he works in con­struc­tion, White hopes to re­cover from the chest sore­ness be­fore he re­turns to his job. But he has been able to at­tend all of his daugh­ter’s bas­ket­ball games since he left the hospi­tal.

How­ever, the im­pact of White’s episode runs even deeper. As a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, su­per­in­ten­dent Pot­teiger has changed the sig­nage to call even more at­ten­tion to the lo­ca­tion of the school’s AEDs. He also added lo­ca­tion notes in­side the AEDs to help peo­ple who might be on the phone with first re­spon­ders know the ad­dress and lo­ca­tion of the in­ci­dent on school prop­erty.

“That was a big change for us,” Pot­teiger said. “Get­ting in­for­ma­tion to emer­gency re­spon­ders was a quick change we could make. It’s some­thing we prob­a­bly never would have thought of.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about Lehigh Val­ley Health Net­work, visit lvhn.org and fol­low on face­book.com/ LVHealthNet­work and twit­ter.com/LVHN.

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