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“I Died and Came Back to Life.” How Having an AED and CPR Certified Members Saved a Man After a Heart Attack

August 30, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Jason Johnson
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In the early hours of a 6:30 AM class, things were anything but typical for member Kyle Lindstrom. His workout at CrossFit City of Lakes was cut short after suffering from a heart attack.

The details: With no underlying health conditions at 38-years-old, it came as a shock when Lindstrom was finishing a max set of pull-ups and found himself unable to breathe.

  • “I came down off the rig and thought I needed to catch my breath. I didn’t know what was happening,” said Lindstrom.
  • Kyle’s wife, Lindsey Harlan Lindstrom, pregnant and due with their baby boy any day, quickly rushed to his side.
  • “I was the first to run over to him because I saw him on the ground and he was making a weird sound. He was looking me dead in the eyes with a look of panic that I will never be able to forget,” said Lindsey Harlan Lindstrom.

Like many CrossFit gyms, the class had at least two first responders and both were crucial in saving Lindstrom.

  • “I was in the class with Kyle when he had his heart attack. I walked over to him and it sounded like he was snoring rather than breathing normally. We rolled him onto his side, hoping to help him breathe, and our coach, Lizzy, went to grab her phone and call 9-1-1,” Bethany Brunsell said, an Assistant Fire Chief and a Captain for a Fire-Rescue District in Minnesota.

A second member Simon Akerman, who specializes in cardiology clinical pharmacy, assisted Brunsell. When neither could find a pulse and Lindstrom stopped breathing, their life-saving skills kicked in.

  • “I started performing CPR compressions while Simon got the AED ready and placed the pads on Kyle’s chest,” said Brunsell.
  • “When the AED charged, it performed a rhythm check. This means it checks the heart for dangerous heart rhythms which could either be shocked or not. To my surprise, I still could not believe this was happening, the AED said that shock was recommended. As soon as everyone was clear of Kyle, I pushed the button to deliver the shock. Then, I immediately began chest compressions,” said Akerman.

Important to note: Something less commonly found inside most CrossFit gyms, an automated external defibrillator, or AED. Boxes aren’t required to have one, however, it’s a tool that Jason Johnson, the owner of CrossFit City of Lakes said, was imperative for those “what if” moments, like this one. 

  • “It’s an investment for sure, as some cost upwards of $1,000 or more. We decided to purchase ours a few years ago after we had saved up for it. We knew it was something we needed long-term for emergencies and the “what if.”  It is as important as any piece of equipment and it is worth its weight in gold after we went through what we experienced here at City of Lakes,” said Johnson.
  • “Kyle had a dangerous heart rhythm that needed a shock and not having the AED would have prolonged his downtime and likely lead to a worse outcome,” said Akerman.”

The big picture: While Kyle has returned back to the gym and can workout again as normal, without the AED in those emergency minutes, the outcome could have been very different. Seeing Kyle, Lindsey and their new baby boy Hank all healthy is proof for Johnson that purchasing the AED was the right decision for his community.

  • “You never think it will happen, someone having a heart attack and almost losing their life within your facility. You know how much your members care for one another, and you know how invested they are in one another, but when something happens like this you have to stop and realize just how important these people are to you and also to one another,” said Johnson.

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