Lacing up for life-saving devices

Bonnie Belec
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Victim of heart disease devotes time to new cause

A man who collapsed on the ice in December and died for six minutes says he doesn’t remember much about the near-death experience save for one thing — a reunion with his father who died two years before.

Chad Herridge has always been a hockey fan, but after being saved by a difibrillator in December he’s lacing up for a tournament being organized by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Funds raised will support life-saving research and programs to address heart disease and stroke in the province.
— Photo by Ronda Hayward/The Telegram

Chad Herridge, originally from Fortune, told The Telegram recently he was playing goal during a game of shinny with a bunch of his buddies and young kids when he dropped to the ice without warning.

“About halfway through — from what I was told, because I don’t remember anything — apparently I went over to talk to my buddy on the bench. He was beat out saying he was having a heart attack. I told Charlene (girlfriend) to grab his Gatorade and then we switched ends, but I don’t remember doing any of that,” he said.

“Then I just collapsed and they said the kids came over poking me because they thought I was playing around,” said the 28-year-old, laughing.

“When they turned me over I was bleeding from my mouth, making weird sounds, and I was gone. That’s when they started doing chest compressions, and used the defibrillator to bring me back,” Herridge said, shaking his head.

He was rushed to St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s and later transferred to the Health Sciences Centre, where he underwent a battery of tests.

Sporting an Ottawa Senators ball cap and jersey, Herridge said for the six minutes he was motionless on the ice he was embraced by his father, who died of cancer Dec. 8, 2012.

“I seen Dad and he hugged into me and said, ‘It’s some good to see you.’ I said, ‘It’s some good to see you, too,’” said Herridge.

“But he said, ‘I got to tell you, we’re not ready for you yet,’ and he hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and said you got to go back to be with your mother and the dog, and Charlene and your dogs. And as he was pushing me, he was singing the song that I sung to him at his funeral,” he recalled.

Once transferred to the Health Sciences, it was discovered Herridge had six blocked arteries —  one at 100 per cent, one at 90 per cent and four at 40 per cent.

He said he was happy he didn’t have to undergo heart bypass surgery such as his father had about 15 years before.

“They put a stent through my wrist, “ he says, tracing over a small scar on his right wrist. “And my chest was burned from the defibrillator, but other than that I’m fine.”

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation 2014 report on the health of Canadians released Monday, more Canadians are surviving a heart attack or stroke, with 165,000 reported last year.

The report, released in conjunction with Heart Month, looks at findings from a poll of 2,000 heart attack and stroke survivors (and their loved ones) and asks if they are able to make and maintain potentially life-saving behaviour changes and if they are receiving the support they need to recover and thrive to the fullest.

“Although we’ve made great progress and have created more survivors than ever before, there is more work to be done,” the report says.

“We can’t lose sight of the fact there are still 350,000 hospitalizations annually due to heart disease and stroke. Each year about 50,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed, 70,000 heart attacks occur, and 50,000 strokes send Canadians to emergency rooms across the country. And there is still room for improvement to help the 1.6 million people living with heart disease and stroke recover to the fullest extent possible,” says the report.

According to information provided by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the total of deaths from all forms of heart disease in the province hovers around 1,468 annually, there are more than 2,000 heart attacks annually and close to 350 people at any one time are living with some form of heart disease.

Herridge said he’s one of the lucky ones and attributes his life being saved to the availability of the automatic external defibrillator (AED) placed in St. Bon’s arena by the foundation.

He has since been asked to become involved in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Hockey Heroes Weekend which will take place May 16-18 at Twin Rinks in St. John’s. The event offers teams the opportunity to play hockey with NHL alumni while raising funds for worthy causes.

Frank Healey, director of fund development for the foundation in Newfoundland and Labrador, said one of those causes is to get AEDs installed in some of the province’s schools.

“We’ve identified 43 schools in the province with at-risk students — students who have existing heart conditions — and we’ve managed to get AEDs in 20 of them, so we have another 23, but ultimately we’d like to get them in every school,” Healey told The Telegram Monday.

He said it usually costs about $3,000 a unit, which includes installation and training.  

“If we were to go into every school it would be quite a costly venture, but our goal at the end of the day is to get them in every school,” said Healey.

Herridge says that’s what he hopes to accomplish by getting involved with the hockey tournament.

“If I had my say they would be in every public building,” he said.

“I’m from a very religious family and the Lord works in mysterious ways,” said Herridge. “I believe this happened to me for a reason, and this is my reason. I’m happy and delighted they asked me to get involved and I hope we can generate enough revenue to get AEDs for the schools,” he said.

To get involved in the tournament go to heartandstroke.nf.ca and scroll to bottom for details or email Herridge at ccaherridge@gmail.com.

 

 bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Gatorade, Mercy Hospital Health Sciences Centre Ottawa Senators NHL

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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