Fitness Express members save 80-year-old man's life

Fitness Express staff and sports club members in Anderson saved a man’s life last Monday morning after he suffered a heart attack from playing a game of racquetball.

For 80-year-old Anderson resident Jerry DeFazio his morning started off like every other one, he said. Every day he goes to the sports club to play racquetball with his friends, not letting his age slow him down.

“While playing I had some pressure in my chest but didn’t really think anything of it,” DeFazio said. “Then the last thing I remember was waking up in the emergency vehicle on the way to the hospital.”

Fitness Express owner Brad Frost said DeFazio is a regular and is in great shape. He was surprised when the incident happened but went into training mode, knowing it was up to him and the group of helpers he had to save his life.

“Emotionally it’s very difficult but your training kicks in and everybody just does what they have to do to save someone’s life,” Frost said. “I broke down afterwards.”

Luckily for DeFazio the gym has a defibrillator (AED) on hand for emergencies. Also, an off duty emergency doctor, Mike Jasumback and a retired firefighter, Gary Ricard, were both working out in the gym during the incident, Frost said. The three men worked together to revive DeFazio, which took around six minutes, Frost said. With no luck after administering CPR, the group pulled out the defibrillator, sending shocks to revive his heartbeat.

“I am so incredibly lucky,” DeFazio said. “I can’t thank Brad, Gary and Mike enough.”

Doctors determined that DeFazio did indeed have a heart attack, he said. As of last week he was still in the hospital but was anxious to go home and is recovering well.

“I wanted to go home yesterday. I’m feeling better,” DeFazio said. “When I see the doctor I’m going to try and see if he’ll let me get out of here.”

DeFazio had an implantable cardio defibrillator (ICB) put in to control the arrhythmia of his heart. After playing racquetball every day for 45 years he has decided it’s time to slow it down a bit, he said. “I’m so thankful to be able to talk to him after all of this. It’s a happy ending,” Frost said. “We are calling it a great Christmas miracle.”

© 2012 Anderson Valley Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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