Bystanders save man at Bremerton YMCA

It was a typical Thursday evening spinning class at the Bremerton YMCA.

But it didn't end that way.

On May 16, a man collapsed from a heart attack after a spinning class at the YMCA off of Wheaton Way.

Brian Sharpe, 61, had what the doctors later diagnosed as a myocardial infarction that Thursday evening during the cool-down stretches of his class, he said.

“I was exercising; it was near the end of the class,” Sharpe said. “I guess I collapsed.”

Sharpe was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal cancer recently, but says he hasn’t had an attack like this before, and he doesn’t know what caused it. He says he doesn’t really remember what happened, but he has no history of heart problems.

“Except for this cancer, I’ve been pretty healthy,” he said.

When Sharpe collapsed at the end of the class, instructor Stephen Russell, 49, quickly performed CPR. Russell said that when it happened, he “basically took charge, made sure that somebody went and called 911, moved over to Brian, assessed the situation and determined that he needed CPR.”

Russell said he started CPR within about a minute, and another YMCA employee, Stephen Tabor, brought an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) up to the room. Tabor used the analyze function of the AED, and when it recommended shocks, Tabor administered them.

”After the shock, he responded pretty quickly,” Tabor said. “We had to give him some more compressions and breaths. Within the next round of compressions, he started breathing again.”

According to Tabor, all of the YMCA staff is trained in CPR and basic first aid every two years, as well as how to use the AED.

The 911 call went into the Fire Department at 5:31 p.m. that evening, and four minutes later the dispatched team arrived on the scene to find that most of the work was already done, according to paramedic Daniel Murphy.

“The bystanders did the CPR, they did the AED, they defibrillated him,” said Murphy. “We found him breathing, not very conscious. I don’t want to downplay it, but … all the hard work and all the heavy lifting was done by the bystanders on scene.”

Fire Captain Lonell Williams also responded to the 911 call.

“He had a heartbeat and blood pressure, which is hugely important,” said Williams. “The things that a doctor would have done, we did right there on scene, like intubation, and we also probably did some drug therapy.”

After the emergency response team arrived, care of Sharpe was transitioned from the YMCA employees to the fire department.

“When the fire department got there, we slowly worked at getting ourselves extricated and getting the EMTs onto him,” said Tabor. “They took about fifteen minutes to get him downstairs, mainly because of how our stairwell is. By the time they got him out … his respiration and heart rate were getting stronger.”

Sharpe was taken to Harrison Hospital for treatment, where the doctors gave him anti-clot medication and put a stent into his heart, according to Sharpe.

“It was really a cool thing because it was a group effort,” Russell said. “Everybody was trained well and responded appropriately.”

Sharpe, who is now at home, still doesn’t really remember what happened, but he has no history of heart problems, and is hoping that another attack doesn’t happen.

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