When Douglas “Doug” Berg suffered a heart attack at Yosemite High School, Oct. 14, 2009, his life was saved thanks to a continuum of care that included school staff, emergency transport personnel and Children’s Hospital Central California. The successful coordination of all those people formed a “Chain of Life” that ensured Doug’s care.
While in Spanish class, Doug went into sudden cardiac arrest. Doug’s Spanish instructor, Rebecca Brokaw, made a phone call to the school’s front office for help and for the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
School personnel started CPR and then used the school’s AED to restart his heart. An AED is a portable electronic device that can recognize and diagnose potentially life threatening irregular heart rhythms and treat victims through defibrillation – using voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take –allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
“When I was able to feel his heart beating, I yelled out ‘his heart is beating,’” said Lina Moberly, a campus supervisor at the school who received a call on the radio to come help. “I’m glad that I know CPR and was able to be a link in saving his life.”
The youngster’s heart had to be shocked twice – a rare occurrence. “When that AED said his heart was back and we didn’t need to shock him again, I just knew somehow whatever it was, he was going to be fine,” said Terri LeQuia, an instructional assistant at the school.
“Shortly after that we noticed he had a pulse and was trying to breath on his own,” said Bob Kernaghan, a teacher at Yosemite High School and volunteer firefighter with first responder training. “So we just kept assisting with respirations and waited for the ambulance to show up.”
Sierra Ambulance arrived and transported the unconscious adolescent from the high school in Oakhurst to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera, where he was treated in the Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Our 34-bed PICU, currently expanding to 42, is one of the largest PICUs in the country based on bed capacity. The highly-experienced PICU team cares for more than 1,000 children each year.
“I got a phone call from his school, telling me my son had an event, he needed to be resuscitated and was in an ambulance on his way to Children’s Hospital,” said Doug’s mother, who rushed to the Hospital along with his father to be at his side. “When she said ‘resuscitated,’ I knew it was a serious issue. But it all worked out so beautifully.”
In the PICU, Doug was given seizure medication and went through a slew of diagnostic procedures, including an MRI, to determine what caused his condition. His mother and father were given frequent updates on their son’s condition.
“They explained what types of medication they were administering to Doug, why they were administering the medication, why they were putting tubes in him and when they were putting in the tubes,” said Doug’s mother. “It was surreal.”
An internal defibrillator, a small, battery powered electrical impulse generator, was implanted in the teen to monitor his heart and provide an electrical shock should he go into sudden cardiac arrest in the future.
“He is a miracle, for everything he went through,” said Lina. “It not only changed his life and his parent’s life, it changed our life and the students’ lives that were in the classroom in an amazing way.”
Doug’s experience motivated students and staff at the high school to get CPR certified.
Now a junior at Yosemite High School, the 17-year-old and his parents recently met the people who helped save his life and presented them with certificates thanking them for their work in saving his life.
“It was truly a team effort from the students to everyone at Children’s, we all knew what to do and we were doing it, it was truly a neat thing.” said Terri. “I have been involved before in CPR in my position,” said Terri, who is also a CPR instructor and nurse in the Navy Reserve. “But I’ve never gotten to meet my patient at the end. This was truly an amazing thing.”
The Berg family is grateful for the continuum of people that was there to take care of him, starting at the school through Children’s.
“It makes me think of life in a totally different way,” said Doug. “Especially when people say ‘live everyday like it’s your last,’ I do that everyday now. I have another chance at life.”