It all started with a camping trip and ended with a life hanging in the balance.
While on vacation, Ben Heege had no idea that he would saving a man’s life with the use of CPR.
“He would have done the same,” said Heege. “It feels like one human taking care of another.”
On July 23, Heege and his family headed to Spencer Spit on Lopez Island to enjoy the beautiful island scenery. During their stay they visited a friend who lives part-time on the island.
When the Heeges arrived at the home of Joey Johnson they exchanged greetings. But within minutes of their arrival Johnson collapsed. They would later learn that Johnson was suffering from cardiac arrest. Johnson’s wife dialed 911 and Heege began to give CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) using techniques he had learned 10 years ago.
“I felt scared for him and his family, but I felt like [CPR] was the one thing I could do,” said Heege trying to recall what he was thinking as those minutes passed. “I went into the zone, I thought I was doing the right thing.”
After 12 minutes of CPR, Lopez EMS arrived on the scene and continued resuscitation efforts, including defibrillation, intubation, IVs and various cardiac medications before flying the patient to a mainland hospital.
“Without his help and initiating CPR we would have had a much longer shot at saving this man’s life,” said one of the paramedics on the scene.
Johnson was released from the hospital last week and is expected to make a full recovery.
“It basically came out of nowhere,” said Johnson, who has been athletic and healthy his entire life. “It was less terrifying to me at the time because I don’t remember it.”
Johnson said it’s hard to comprehend the whole ordeal at this time, but that he is grateful to Heege and the EMS teams whose efforts saved his life. His wife plans on getting CPR-trained in the near future.
For Heege, the day seemed fated. He happened to be at Johnson’s house at the right time. If Heege had not been there to perform CPR, Johnson may not have survived.
“I guess it’s a little hard to fully comprehend, but it’s definitely a good feeling,” said Heege.
To receive CPR training on Lopez Island, call the fire station at 468-2991. CPR classes must have at least five people enrolled. The cost is $20.